The International Olympic Committee’s proposal to boot wrestling from the 2020 Summer Olympic Games is creating waves in the South Caucasus, especially in Georgia, where the sport is known for producing medals and glory.
In the years since the Soviet Union’s collapse, Olympic programs in former Soviet republics like Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have struggled to revive their former moxie. The wrestling mat has been one of the few areas in which the countries have remained competitive at the Olympic level.
At the London Games in 2012, for example, Georgia won six Olympic medals in wrestling events. For Armenia and Azerbaijan, the sport is also important: Azerbaijani wrestlers brought home seven of the country’s 10 Olympic medals, including two golds, and Armenian wrestlers gained two of Armenia’s three medals.
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Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of Investor.ge, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia.