USA Wrestling will not send athletes to world championships in December
USA Wrestling will not send a team to the world championships in December in Belgrade, citing health and safety issues from the coronavirus pandemic.
The federation’s executive committee on Tuesday unanimously approved the proposal not to participate.
“The health and safety of U.S. athletes, coaches and staff is always the No. 1 concern for USA Wrestling,” Bruce Baumgartner, a four-time Olympian and USA Wrestling president, said in a press release. “After reviewing updated medical, scientific and government data, and providing an opportunity for athlete and stakeholder input, the Executive Committee concluded that it would not be in the best interest of all involved to organize a delegation to travel to and participate in the Senior World Championships in Serbia.”
The 2020 World Championships have no bearing on Tokyo Olympic qualifying, either for quota spots for nations or for individual U.S. athletes.
USA Wrestling held a series of meetings before Tuesday’s decision, including medical, scientific and governmental experts, stakeholders and an athlete advisory committee. Plus, it sent a survey to 117 senior athletes asking about willingness to compete at December’s worlds.
Wrestlers cannot compete independent of a national federation at a world championships. USA Wrestling also decided not to send a team to world championships in 2002, due to safety reasons in host Iran.
Wrestling worlds have been held annually dating to 2005 and go back decades in non-Olympic years.
Before the pandemic, there were no wrestling worlds scheduled for 2020, ending a pattern of holding worlds in the autumn of Olympic years for non-Olympic weight classes.
In July, United World Wrestling announced a plan for a worlds in Belgrade in December, should health and safety measures be met. It also mandated that, to take place, eight of the world’s top 10 ranked teams must agree to take part, plus a minimum of 70 percent participating countries based on 2019 attendance.
It will include competition in the same 30 divisions as the 2019 World Championships across men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman.
“We are cautiously optimistic about wrestling’s return in December,” United World Wrestling president Nenad Lalovic said in an Oct. 12 press release, which noted that junior worlds, slated in Belgrade for the week before senior worlds, were canceled “after feedback from the national federations indicated concerns about the number of participants able to attend.”
A bureau will meet Nov. 6 to review the senior worlds, assessing the pandemic’s impact on participation.
USA Wrestling held a national championships two weeks ago in Iowa with some of its stars competing, notably Kyle Snyder and Adeline Gray, that could have played a role in a world championships team selection process.
Snyder withdrew during the meet with an injury. Gray won and planned to enter worlds had the U.S. planned to send a team.
The U.S. Olympic Trials were rescheduled from April 2020 to April 2021 at Penn State University.
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