Local Wrestling Experts Dismayed at Decision to Drop the Sport From the Olympics

Wrestling was part of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

Some notable local wrestling experts are reacting with dismay to the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to remove the sport from the Summer Games, starting in 2020.

The committee 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.

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.

"That is the longest-running sport in Olympic history, and I am astounded they decided to pull it," said Tim Desjardin, a member of the 1980 state championship wrestling team from Fermi High School who is currently a referee. "It's a bad sign of where they're going with the Olympics."

Jim Olson, a teammate of Desjardin and co-captain of that state championship team, went on to coach at East Windsor High School for 25 years, and is a member of that town's Athletic Club Hall of Fame.

"I think it's a crying shame," Olson said. "It's a demanding sport which requires a lot of commitment, and it teaches great work ethic and discipline."

Fermi head wrestling coach Jeff Beiler said, "Wrestling is one of the original Olympic sports, and I think it's a travesty the IOC could make this decision. I can't see the reasoning behind this, and I hope they reconsider this decision and reinstate the world's oldest sport."

A report by the IOC program commission said TV ratings and ticket sales are among the criteria used by the panel, according to ESPN.

"The reality is a bunch of TV executives are looking at ratings, and when they're showing wrestling at 3 o'clock in the morning, of course the ratings are terrible," said Dave Fredrick, a member of the 1984 Enfield High School state championship wrestling team.

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.

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