Describing himself as "stunned" when he heard the news, Dunwoody High School head wrestling coach Ed Winterstein still doesn't understand the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to remove the sport from the 2020 Games.
"I don't understand what the rationale is," said Winterstein. "I couldn't believe it when I heard it. How do you replace an international sport like this one in the Olympics?"
The IOC agreed to pare down the 26 sports it features to 25 so that a new sport could join the lineup in 2020. Wrestling has a chance to make it back into the Olympics, but the Los Angeles Times said that was unlikely now that it has been cut.
In neighboring Sandy Springs, Holy Innocents assistant wrestling coach Stacey Davis is confident the sport will be on the menu for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
“My advice to athletes and fans is, be patient,” Davis said. “Wrestling is a time-tested sport and I’m confident it will be back on the list of sports for the 2020 Olympics.”
Davis was one of only two American wrestling officials to officiate at the 2012 London Olympics. , last September, as well as the World Team Trials in Oklahoma City, OK, last summer. He has been a USA Wrestling referee since 1997.
Davis’ first reaction to the news that the IOC had removed wrestling as an Olympic sport was, “ ‘Here we go again. What is the IOC thinking?’ This is not the first time I’ve heard rumblings that wrestling was going to be removed, but it’s the first time that such a preliminary action has been taken.
“I really don’t have a clue what the IOC is thinking. The fact that this way it was handled in secret leads me to believe the IOC isn’t sure it was the right decision.”
Wrestling in the Olympics started with the ancient Games in 708 B.C., and became a staple of the modern Olympics, beginning in Athens, Greece in 1896.
“The IOC may be looking at this from a business standpoint, but I remember how full the venues were in London, the electricity in the stands, and how the broad-based support for the sport,” Davis said. “The mere fact the IOC published this information ahead of time, tells me there’s room for them to go back and reconsider this.”
Winterstein hopes the IOC decision isn't a "done deal.
"It's not like wrestling is an unpopular sport," he said. "I have heard that some people believe the sport is boring, but you have to understand the subleties of what's going on."
A report by the IOC program commission said TV ratings and ticket sales are among the criteria used by the panel, according to ESPN.
Among the sports being kept in the Olympics is modern pentathlon, a combination of fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting. It has been an Olympic sport since 1912.
At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, 71 countries participated in wrestling, while just 26 nations competed in modern pentathlon.