The question of what events to put in or remove from the Olympics has been a long-standing challenge. Back in 1983, I worked for a while with IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch et al, in Lausanne, Switzerland to offer a scheme whereby “we,” namely WHO, would bring IOC drug test kits and chemicals into all regions and countries, as we had immunity from national customs officials, who then could not tip off national coaches what tests to expect, and adjust their performance enhancing drugs to evade those tests. As a result, there was a big decline in Eastern European medal winning in 1984. (Check the records.) Since then, with WHO’s help, IOC has obtained the equivalent of WHO’s international immunity for testing purposes.
At the time, Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling were among the longest standing events in the Olympics. No one would dream of eliminating either. The IOC policy at the time was to add only sports that were practiced in the most numbers of countries. One difficult question then, and which continued through Jacques Rogge’s Presidency, was whether to include women’s ski-jumping. In 1983 only about six countries had national women’s jumping programs, although it seemed pretty obvious that would change, and women can jump as well as men. So, finally we have it in 2014.
Meanwhile, the IOC has added anomalies like ribbon-dancing, perhaps more for political reasons than anything else. And in 2014 we get for the first time in the Olympics “slope-style” snowboarding and skiing, although that gives a decided advantage to those few countries that have the resources to set up and maintain the courses. The Samaranch principle is perhaps being violated, but O.K. it’s fun for everyone, so why not?
But this last year some influential block-heads proposed to eliminate free-style wrestling, as from 2020, despite the fact that free-style high and college wrestling is available in almost 200 countries. As coaches of the eminently successful “Green Wave” high school wrestling program, you must have been shocked by that brainless proposal. But here’s the good news: The plenary IOC has overridden that idiotic quasi decision, and has reinstated freestyle wrestling in all future summer Olympics.
We need to get back to the Samaranch principle, and respect the original ideals and purposes of the Olympics. The Olympics is no place to demonstrate for ideological positions, no matter otherwise how valid. The Olympics are a place where deadly enemies, even those at war with each other (e.g.Athens v. Sparta v. Macedonia) can come and devote all their energies to sport, which can make its own contribution to world peace.