National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Olympic Wrestling:
Looking Forward to 2020, Back to 1964

By Mark Palmer
Senior Writer
One year from now wrestlers will take to the mat for competition at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. For seven days — Sunday, Aug. 2 to Saturday, Aug. 7, 2020 — wrestlers from around the world will be vying for medals … and glory.

Tokyo will be the host city for the Summer Olympics for the second time in the history of the Modern Olympics (going back to 1896). Back in 1964, Japan’s largest city welcomed the world’s best amateur athletes for the Olympics 55 years ago. (More about that later.)

Looking forward: The 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Competition, by the numbers

At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, there will be a total of 288 slots for wrestlers in 18 competitions — six weight-class competitions in men’s freestyle, six weight classes in women’s freestyle, and six in Greco-Roman. This translates to 16 wrestlers per weight class.

The six Olympic men’s freestyle weight classes are 57 kilograms/125.4 pounds; 65 kilograms/143 pounds; 74 kilograms/163 pounds; 86 kilograms/183 pounds; 97 kilograms/213 pounds; and 125 kilograms/275 pounds.

The six weight classes for women’s freestyle wrestling are 50 kilograms/110 pounds; 53 kilograms/116.5 pounds; 57 kilograms/125 pounds; 62 kilograms/136 pounds; 68 kilograms/149.5 pounds; and 75 kilograms/167 pounds.

The six Olympic Greco-Roman weight classes: 60 kilograms/132 pounds; 67 kilograms/147 pounds; 76 kilograms/167 pounds; 87 kilograms/191 pounds; 97 kilograms/213 pounds; and 130 kilograms/286 pounds.

Fewer wrestlers next year in Tokyo: Why?

When you hear that 288 wrestlers will be competing at the 2020 Olympics, that number sounds impressive. But it’s significantly fewer than in recent Games.

Take the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. There was a total of 344 wrestlers at the Rio Games three years ago. That’s a loss of 56 available slots for wrestlers in Tokyo next summer … which translates to approximately one-fifth fewer wrestlers compared to the last Olympics.

What gives?

Since the 2016 Rio Games, the International Olympic Committee has revealed a number of new sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, including karate, 3-on-3 basketball, BMX freestyle cycling, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing … along with the return of baseball/softball, which had been banished from the Olympics a few years ago, only to make a return appearance at the next Summer Olympics.

In addition, there will additional competitions added to some existing sports, such as swimming and track … including some mixed-gender competitions.

All that said, it’s not as if there will be hundreds of more athletes descending on Tokyo next summer compared to Rio in 2016. In the past decade or so, the IOC has had a goal of approximately 10,500 athletes at each Summer Olympics, with an attempt to have equal numbers of male/female competitors. (The IOC expects women to make up 48.8 per cent of all athletes at the 2020 Olympics.)

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