IOC’s logic hard to pin down
Letters to the Editor, February 15, 2013
As a Department of Defense dependent youth living in Europe, I can recall visiting the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, for a field trip. Of all the incredible works of art, I remember being awestruck by the ancient Roman sculpture of two wrestlers, forever grappling to some unknown conclusion.
When my dad was transferred to Belgium and I entered high school, I can recall the brutal agony of my first-ever wrestling practice, a sport in which I would never excel, though one that I will always cherish. During a summer in high school, I remember sitting for nearly an hour at our local kebab store, watching Olympic wrestling on the grainy television in absorbed silence alongside the store’s Iraqi Kurdish owners. We came from different worlds and spoke different languages, but we did not need words to appreciate the unspoken unity of our beloved sport.
That is why I was very saddened to hear of the International Olympic Committee’s decision to eliminate wrestling from the 2020 Olympic Games. Certainly there are arguments against the sport’s inclusion in the Games: It is underwatched, and the sport’s rules, particularly the Greco-Roman variety, are not always obvious to the casual onlooker. But unlike many of today’s sports that are inaccessible to the layperson, wrestling is truly the great equalizer, a sport that is played out both in great arenas and on stacked mattresses in the slums. Its antiquity is a testament to its simplicity and, unlike other sports up for consideration by the IOC that require specialized equipment (roller sports, wake-boarding, to name some), wrestling continues to be one of the most inclusive sports in the world.
It is a shame that a sport that so embodies the spirit of tradition and inclusion will no longer be a part of the Olympic Games.