Sergey Bubka, third right, member of the International Olympic Committee executive board, left, shook hands with Nenad Lalovic, head of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA), right, after wrestling was reinstated as an Olympic sport during the 125th IOC session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sunday.

Victor R. Caivano, Associated Press

Iran, shown training at wrestling Sunday in Tehran, was among countries pushing for wrestling’s reinstatement, making for odd bedfellows. Russia and the United States also took key roles.

Ebrahim Noroozi •Associated Press,

Wrestling regains Olympic status

  • Article by: JERE LONGMAN
  • New York Times
  • September 8, 2013 - 11:39 PM

– After facing a wide backlash, the International Olympic Committee on Sunday restored wrestling — one of the most traditional and elemental sports — to the Summer Games.

Chastened by calls to modernize its leadership and energize its matches, wrestling changed its rules, created more weight classes for women and easily prevailed over squash and a combined bid by baseball and softball.

Wrestling received 49 votes, compared with 24 for baseball/softball and 22 for squash in voting by delegates of the Olympic committee. The vote guaranteed that freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling would be contested at least through the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo and the 2024 Olympics, which have yet to be awarded.

Last February, in what was seen as a wake-up call, the 15-member executive board of the IOC removed wrestling from the core sports of the Summer Games after the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The ancient sport had antiquated leadership, and matches could be dull, with the results not easily understood by spectators, Olympic officials said in admonishing wrestling officials.

Wrestling’s world governing body, FILA, quickly began to reform itself. Its president, Raphael Martinetti of Switzerland, resigned and was replaced by Serb Nenad Lalovic.

“We have made mistakes,” Lalovic said. “We admitted it. We have decided to listen and learn.”

Countries with profound political differences — the United States, Russia and Iran — found common ground when their interests converged over wrestling.

Two Olympic weight classes were dropped for men and two were added for women to enhance gender equity.

The rules were also amended to make matches more dynamic, rewarding wrestlers who are more aggressive. Matches will consist of two three-minute rounds now instead of three two-minute rounds. Takedowns will count for two points instead of one, and matches will be decided on accumulated points.

Wrestlers will now have “more time to develop the fight,” Lalovic said. “In two minutes, that was practically impossible.”

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