The Two Forms of Wrestling at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 and Their Rules

Published 07/13/2021, 11:01 AM EDT


Wrestling as an event has been part of the Ancient Olympic Games in Greece, it was also part of the first Olympic Games in 1896. This was the only time they did not use weight classes in the event.

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Since the 1896 games, wrestling has been a part of the Olympics in every edition except the 1900 Summer Olympics.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 19: Aniuar Geduev of Russia (right) defends a shot by Hassan Yazdani of Iran during the men’s 74kg freestyle wrestling gold medal match on Friday, August 19, 2016. Yazdani would capture gold by way of a decision. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Read more: How Do US’s Equestrian Athletes Beat the Heat at the Tokyo Olympics 2021?

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Greco-Roman wrestling was the form of wrestling introduced by the event organizers at the 1896 Olympics, as they thought it was a form that could carry over from the Ancient Olympic Games. 

In recent times, the sport has been gaining a lot of popularity and there are now 135 countries with an established wrestling federation and the US is a major player in this sport.

It is one of the top three sports in the US in terms of medals won at the Olympics.

Types of wrestling events at the Olympics

Freestyle Wrestling: 

This form of wrestling is one reason for the recent popularity of wrestling and is practiced extensively worldwide. It is a more modern form, the aim of which is to throw the opponents off their feet and pin them to the mat.

Scoring system:

  1. Takedowns (2-5 points): They can score 2-5 points depending on points of contact, execution, and style of the takedowns, a high-scoring takedown is when a powerful throw lifts the opponent’s legs above their head from a standing position
  2. Reversal (1 point): When a wrestler manages to outsmart their opponent to go from a defensive position to an attacking position during the fight, it is a reversal. Reversals award one point to the wrestler that pulls it off.
  3. Exposure (2-3 points): A wrestler can score points for putting the opponent on their back, 2-3 points awarded based on execution, style, and duration of the exposure.
  4. Penalty(1-2 points): They award a penalty to the wrestler when they flee from a hold, back away from the mat, or take a timeout unnecessarily. Three cautions lead to a disqualification, the wrestlers can challenge the cautions.
  5. Out of bounds: They awarded the opponent one point when a wrestler goes out of bounds.

Greco-Roman Wrestling:

Greco-Roman wrestling has some key differences from freestyle wrestling, holds below the waist are illegal.  The bouts take place on a circular map and the wrestlers have to use their upper bodies to pin their opponents and/or score points to win the match.

Trips, a key feature of freestyle wrestling, are illegal in Greco-Roman wrestling. The scoring system for both the styles is the same, the rules, however, are different. 

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Greco-Roman Wrestling rules:

  1. Grabbing an opponent’s knees, thighs, or legs is illegal.
  2. Tripping, kicking, and knee strikes are forbidden.
  3. They divide each round into three segments. Sixty seconds in the neutral position on their feet, and two 30 second segments for ground combat.
  4. They award the wrestler that scores the most points in the neutral position, the on-top advantage for the ground sequence. If the wrestler on top during the ground sequence is unable to score points, they award the opponent a point for good defense. The wrestlers then switch positions to allow both athletes the chance to score points with the on-top advantage.

One of the biggest differences between the two forms is that there is no women’s category in Greco-Roman, whereas in freestyle wrestling there is a women’s event. 

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Allan Binoy

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