The Olympics Cut 56 Wrestlers From 2020

Tony Rotundo
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the addition of five new sports and 15 new events for the 2020 Tokyo Games. According to the IOC, the purpose for these changes is so that the Olympic Games will be "more youthful, more urban, and will include more women."

Unfortunately, the IOC will not be expanding the overall size of the games, and so those new events and athletes will come at the expense of the old programming from the 2016 Rio Games.

To the surprise of no one, wrestling was on the receiving end of those cuts, losing 56 spots from the 344 wrestlers who participated in Rio. The 285 wrestling slots allocated for Tokyo will be divided equally among Greco-Roman, men's freestyle, and women's freestyle and their six respective weights, equating to 16 wrestlers per weight class. 

The five new sports being added to the 2020 lineup are climbing, skateboarding, karate, surfing, and baseball and softball. The IOC provided this handy pie chart, which helpfully indicates that each new sport will constitute one-fifth of the five new sports being added. 

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Wrestling won't be the only sport that will have a diminished presence in Tokyo. Track and field will lose over 100 spots, and weightlifting will be losing 64 participants and one of the men's weight classes. 

The full breakdown of the number of new events can be found in the table below.

SPORT NO. DESCRIPTION
Aquatics (Swimming) 3 800m (M) & 1500m (W) & 4x100m Medley Mixed Relay
Archery 1 Mixed Team Event
Athletics 1 4x400m Mixed Relay
Basketball 2 3x3 (M/W)
Boxing 0 Transfer of two men's events to two women's events
Canoe 0 Transfer of three men's events to three women's events
Cycling (BMX) 2 BMX Freestyle Park (M/W)
Cycling (Track) 2 Madison (M/W)
Fencing 2 Team Events (M/W)
Judo 1 Mixed Team Event
Rowing 0 Transfer of one men's event to one women's event
Sailing 0 Transfer of Mixed Multihull to Mixed Foiling Multihull
Shooting 0 Transfer of three men's events to mixed events
Table Tennis 1 Mixed Doubles
Triathlon 1 Mixed Team Relay
Weightlifting -1 Reduction of one men's weight category

The IOC also provided a chart of the number of athletes being added or cut from the existing sports, reproduced below.

SPORT NO. DESCRIPTION
Aquatics (Water Polo) -18 Reduction in Water Polo team size, addition of two women's Water Polo teams
Aquatics (Swimming) -22 Reduction of 22 athletes
Athletics -105 Reduction of 105 athletes
Basketball 64 Inclusion of 3x3 with 8 teams for each gender, +64 athletes (32W/32M)
Boxing 0 Transfer of 44 athletes from men to women
Canoe 0 Transfer of 55 athletes to reach gender balance
Cycling (BMX Racing) 0 Transfer of 8 athletes to reach gender balance
Cycling (MTB) 0 Transfer of 8 athletes to reach gender balance in MTB, transfer of 4 male athletes to BMX Freestyle
Cycling (Road) 0 Transfer of 14 men to BMX Freestyle
Judo 0 Transfer of 38 athletes to reach gender balance
Rowing -24 Reduction of 24 athletes and reach gender balance
Sailing -30 Reduction of 30 athletes and reach gender balance
Shooting -30 Reduction of 30 athletes and reach gender balance
Weightlifting -64 Reduction of 64 athletes and reach gender balance
Wrestling -56 Reduction of 56 athletes across all disciplines and gender balance in Freestyle Wrestling

With the repeated emphasis on gender balance, it is perhaps a surprise that wrestling did not have to reallocate some of its weight classes, as the sport currently has twice as many men's divisions as it does women's. It is safe to assume, however, that the topic did come up.

Back in 2013, after wrestling was dropped from the Olympic Games, the world's oldest and greatest sport won an IOC vote to be readmitted, beating out squash and baseball and softball in the process. Though baseball and softball were later added, squash was once again left out, presumably because it is not either youthful or urban enough. 

Squash will continue to face an uphill battle to be included in the 2024 Games and beyond. With the recent push to include more "exciting," "dynamic," and "righteously tubular" sports, the Olympics will now contest three of the six events featured in the classic Nintendo game, "California Games." If the trend continues, squash will likely be passed over yet again for rollerblading, ultimate frisbee, and hacky sack. 

The entire press release from the IOC can be found here.

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