IOC leaders have dropped wrestling for the 2020 Games in a surprise decision to scrap one of the oldest sports on the Olympic programme.
The IOC executive board decided on Tuesday to retain modern pentathlon -- the event considered most at risk -- and remove wrestling instead from its list of core sports.
The decision, announced by the IOC, was first reported by The Associated Press.
The IOC board acted after reviewing the 26 sports on the current Olympic programme. Eliminating one sport allows the International Olympic Committee to add a new sport to the programme later this year.
Wrestling, which combines freestyle and Greco-Roman events, goes back to the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896. Wrestling featured 344 athletes competing in 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman at last year's London Olympics.
Wrestling will now join seven other sports in applying for inclusion in 2020. The others are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. They will be vying for a single opening in 2020.
The IOC executive board will meet in May in St Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC general assembly in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The last sports removed from the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out by the IOC in 2005 and off the programme since the 2008 Beijing Games. Golf and rugby will be joining the programme at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.