NEIL BONNAR: IOC were on a loser when they wrestled with tradition
11:00pm Thursday 12th September 2013 in Sport
DAVID Attenborough says humans have stopped evolving. Whether his conclusion comes from decades of study, research and intelligent introspection or from watching Big Brother is unclear.
It is also a matter for debate whether evolution is a good thing.
The Big Brother housemates suggest not, as does the recent debacle over wrestling’s inclusion in the Olympic Games.
It was one of the original handful of sports that formed the ancient Games 3,000 years ago, and it has been included in all but one of the modern Games since they re-started in 1896 – the only one it missed being in 1900.
In their wisdom, however, the International Olympic Committee decided six months ago it was time for it to go.
The decision sparked a huge debate and a campaign from the wrestling world to have it reinstated – which ultimately proved successful as it won a three-way vote this week.
It was up against squash and a combined bid by baseball/softball for the one vacancy wrestling’s exclusion had left from the 2020 Games.
Complicated? That’s evolution for you in the Olympics world.
So in six months wrestling was kicked out of the Olympics and then put back in.
Nothing changed in terms of which sports will feature in the Games in 2020, but it took more than 100 IOC members to vote for it and it cost millions of pounds of campaigning by all the sports concerned to reach this status quo.
The IOC should not be criticised in general as they put on a great Olympics every four years. It really is the greatest show on earth. But they should look at which sports they feature and how they go about selecting them.
The only winners in the selection procedure were the companies which were paid to lobby on the sports’ behalf.
If anybody should wonder why their local wrestling club has not got adequate facilities it is because millions of pounds have been spent on trying to keeping a place in the Olympics that they already occupied. Crazy or evolution?
And which sports were they that the IOC were looking to replace wrestling with? Two and a half years ago, they shortlisted squash, karate, roller sports, the Chinese martial art wushu, wakeboarding, softball/baseball and climbing.
None of those have “Olympics” written all over them like wrestling. They are mostly sports which do not sit right in the Olympics, much like golf and rugby sevens which are coming in at the next Games, and motor-boating, cricket, croquet and polo which have tried to get in in the past.
With the huge profile and income that go with inclusion in the Olympics, all sorts of weird and wonderful sports will try to get in.
What the IOC need to do is ensure it is not at the expense of those with 3,000 years of tradition.