Three months after being dropped from the 2020 Olympics, wrestling won a reprieve Wednesday and made the IOC shortlist for inclusion in the games.
Also making the cut were squash and a combined baseball-softball bid.
Eight sports were vying for a single opening on the lineup. Eliminated from contention were five sports — karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and the Chinese martial art of wushu.
The IOC executive board will submit wrestling, squash and baseball-softball to the full IOC assembly for a final decision on Sept. 8 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“The match is not finished,” said Nenad Lalovic, the recently elected president of the international wrestling federation, FILA. “We have a second match to fight. But be careful, we are good fighters.”
Despite a tradition dating to the ancient Olympics, wrestling was surprisingly cut from the list of core sports by the IOC board in February. The decision caused an international outcry and prompted the United States, Russia, Iran and other countries to join forces in a bid to bring the sport back.
Wrestling has freestyle and Greco-Roman events, but the sport has gone through a major upheaval since the rejection.
Raphael Martinetti resigned as FILA president and was replaced by Lalovic, the organization brought women and athletes into decision-making roles, and changes were enacted to make the sport more compelling.
Among the changes, matches will consist of two three-minute sessions instead of three two-minute periods, and scoring will be cumulative instead of the previous best-of-three system.
“For sure the rule changes helped us,” Lalovic said. “We had to do it much earlier.”