The Olympic future of Wrestling, Canoeing and Hockey

Jackson of Team GB Hockey in action at the London Olympics

Dan Thompson, one of GSN's three founding members, updates on future ins/outs among Olympic sports.

I recently wrote an article on the sports that the IOC was considering dropping from the 2020 Olympics. Since I wrote that article the IOC Executive Committee has reached its conclusion and is recommending that wrestling be dropped.

 The final decision on which sport(s) will be dropped, and which added, will be taken at the full IOC meeting in September this year. Inevitably, there is a campaign to keep wrestling in the Olympics and the main planks of the campaign are wrestling’s long Olympic tradition and its popularity around the world. Strong arguments in my view – even if I do feel that Greco-Roman wrestling, one of the two wrestling disciplines, could be dropped, still leaving Freestyle wrestling in the Olympics.
In my original article, I also expressed amazement that table-tennis and badminton were candidates to be dropped. It turned out that this was a false rumour and they were always safe. Instead hockey and canoeing were under threat.
I’m equally amazed that hockey was being discussed. It’s a great sport to play and representative of a number of stick and ball sports. I also greatly enjoyed canoeing – especially the white water slalom events!
However, canoeing is another sport split into two disciplines – kayaking and canoeing – and it might be worth considering dropping one of them. Slightly counter-intuitively, kayaking is the sport that I suspect most people think of as canoeing. You sit in the boat and use a double-bladed paddle. Canoeing, on the other hand, involves kneeling in the boat and using a single bladed paddle. Kayaking is something you can pick up quickly and enjoy almost immediately. Canoeing, for all its many good points, is much harder to pick up – or at least that's what I found!
I don’t believe the IOC would consider dropping disciplines, as opposed to whole sports. However, it might be part of the answer as it would keep great sports in the Olympics while simultaneously meeting pragmatic objectives such as limiting the number of competitors and events.