IOC, Olympic Fans Wrestle with Troubling Move

In a move that shocked the athletic world, the International Olympic Committee voted to drop wrestling from the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

Using a report that analyzed 39 criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, global participation and popularity, the IOC board decided to cut wrestling in favor of modern pentathlon, taekwondo and field hockey.

The surprising move sparked a social media firestorm, many expressing outrage against the IOC.

A Facebook page called “Keep Wrestling in the Olympics” acquired more than 63,000 “followers” in 24 hours.

Jordan Burroughs, an Olympic champion and one of the sport’s most visible athletes, posted a comment expressing his disappointment that garnered more than 6,000 “likes” and 2,000 “shares.”

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As the news spread, more athletes and coaches took to social media to express their feelings, and encouraged others to use the Internet to launch a grassroots movement in support of the sport.

Even the New York Times got in on the action, criticizing the politics involved with the IOC’s decision in an article released Feb. 12.

Interestingly, however, the IOC has yet to respond to the overwhelming backlash. The only form of a response appears on the Olympic Games blog, where a post explains the board’s decision:

“The EB recommended that wrestling, governed by the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA), not be included on the list of core sports. Wrestling will now join the seven shortlisted sports – baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu – vying for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic programme as an additional sport.”

Though this isn’t necessarily a crisis public relations situation, I still think the IOC is making a mistake by refusing to respond. Ignoring the situation won’t make it go away. The lack of acknowledgement makes the board seem insensitive and raises questions as to their transparency.

Is the board hiding something? Was their decision really made based on the criteria they provided? Are the Olympic Games trustworthy?

I think the IOC should take a cue from Boeing’s immediate response to its 787 situation and openly discuss its decision. Create a blog post, respond to tweets, distribute an official press release—do something. Though the discussion may be uncomfortable, it offers a way for fans to be heard/express their frustrations while discouraging further media attention.

Do you agree? Do you think the IOC should respond to the backlash they’re receiving for cutting wrestling from the 2020 Games? If so, how do you think they should do it?

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