As discussed earlier, today was a critical step in wrestling's quest to get back into the Olympics. With the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board convening in St. Petersburg, Russia, as part of the 2013 SportAccord Convention, it was vital that wrestling be named to the shortlist of sports to be considered for the final spot in the 2020 Olympics program. Thankfully, that's exactly what happened, as the IOC Executive Board named wrestling to the shortlist. Wrestling is joined on the shortlist by baseball/softball and squash. Missing the cut were karate, wushu, roller sports, sport climbing, and wakeboarding.
Again, this is just the first step of the process to (hopefully) return wrestling to the roster of Olympic sports in 2020 and 2024 (and beyond). Wrestling will still need to be selected over baseball/softball and squash by the members of IOC General Assembly at their meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 8. But in order to get to that hurdle, wrestling first needed to pass this hurdle, which it's managed to do. Whew.
Squash figures to be wrestling's primary competition for the final spot. Baseball/softball enjoy limited popularity outside of the Americas and Japan/China/Korea and its efforts to make the Olympic program appear further hampered by the fact that the Olympics tend to take place smack-dab in the middle of the MLB season.
Baseball was dropped from the Olympics after concerns that top players would not compete during the Major League Baseball season.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig seemed to shoot down that possibility in April, however, when he told the Associated Press Sports Editors group: "We can’t stop our season in August. Do I wish I could? Yes. But is it practical? No."
Squash also finished second in the poll on insidethegames.com (wrestling finished first), with 32% of the vote. In any event, the next (and final) stop on the #SaveOlympicWrestling tour is Buenos Aires in September. Fingers crossed that there's another positive outcome for wrestling there as well.