An Olympic wrestler has vowed to give back his gold medal in protest of a recent International Olympic Committee decision to drop wrestling from the 2020 Olympic Games.
The Associated Press reported on Wednesday, February 20, that 53-year-old Valentin Yordanov would give back the gold medal he won at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics for his win in 52-kilogram freestyle.
The AP report noted the decision of IOC was a particularly touchy one, not just for Yordanov, but for Bulgaria as a whole. In the country’s history, it has captured 16 Olympic wrestling titles.
Some of that outrage has also filtered into the United States. Orangevale, California-based Casa Roble High School wrestling coach Rene Delgado called the decision “tragic almost.”
Delgado, speaking to The Sacramento Bee, said the sport is a “big deal” to wrestlers in the United States, but pointed out that in other parts of the world, “it’s almost religious.”
Sacramento-based Valley High School coach Rod Edmisten called the decision “mind-boggling.”
“With the exception of track-and-field, [wrestling] has the most diverse dispersion of medals in the Olympics…. So how can they get rid of it while they want to keep badminton, judo, and [taekwondo]?”
The Inquisitr reported last week that IOC would be dropping the sport. IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the decision wasn’t about “what’s wrong with wrestling, it is what’s right with the 25 core sports.”
Still, with decisions like this and the 2012 refusal of IOC members to honor the memory of Israeli athletes murdered in Munich during the 1972 Olympics, the committee may need a PR specialist by the time 2020 arrives.
What do you think about the IOC’s decision to drop wrestling from the Olympics, and do you agree with Olympic wrestler Yordanov’s decision to give back his gold medal?