In a surprising move, the International Olympics Committee voted to cut wrestling from its program among a list of five candidates which included modern pentathlon, badminton, table tennis, and taekwondo.
Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in the Olympics after beginning competition during the 1896 Games in Athens.
"This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It's not a case of what's wrong with wrestling, it is what's right with the 25 core sports."
The decision was based on three dozen criteria which included such factors as television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy, and global popularity. However, the sport still has a chance to make its case to get back in the Olympics.
Wrestling will now join a pool of seven other sports vying for inclusion in 2020. The others include a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding, and wushu. All of these sports are aiming to fill a single opening in 2020.
The IOC will meet again in May to decide which sport to propose for inclusion for 2020, with the final vote to be made in September.
The last sports removed from the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out by the IOC in 2005 and off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games. Golf and rugby will be joining the program at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Modern pentathlon, which combines fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting, was the sport most people initially believed would be dropped. But the committee made an upset pick with wrestling instead.