Like running, swimming and boxing, which are regarded as basic sports since the participants depend on personal skills without the aid of, say, a racket or a ball, wrestling, too, is an event where one man pits his strength against another. Watching it may not always be pleasant, but boxing can be much worse. The possibility, therefore, that wrestling will be banned from the Olympics has come as a shock not only to the grapplers, but also virtually to the sporting fraternity and spectators.
Since television now determines the mega sporting occasions involving huge expenditure, games are included and dropped in accordance with the monetary calculations of the organisers and sponsors. Even the timing of the events is changed keeping in mind the viewers in Europe and North America. It isn’t surprising, therefore, that skateboard is being favoured in place of wrestling since it is considered more exciting than a game where the pugilists circle one another while looking for an opening to lunge at the rival and bring him down.
Given the disregard for wrestling, over 100 practitioners of the game, both men and women, from 12 countries as well as top officials of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles went on a pilgrimage, so to say, to the site where the Olympics were held in ancient times. Their mission was to seek inspiration from the hallowed place and perhaps ask the gods to intercede on their behalf. Considering that wrestling features in cave paintings and is the subject of literary allusions when the battle of Troy was fought, it has evidently been known to man from the dawn of time. Introduced in 708 BC, it was a staple of the ancient Olympics and remained a part of it till the very end, 273 Games later. In 1896, it was revived with the beginning of the modern Olympics. Banning it, therefore, will be nothing short of an outrage.