The board voted after reviewing a report by the IOC program commission report that analyzed 39 criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board was also subject to political, emotional and sentimental factors.
"The common understanding is the purpose of this was to modernise, to look into the future of the Olympics," added Bach, a potential IOC presidential candidate later this year.
IOC sources told Reuters that in the secret ballot there were four sports battling to avoid the cut: field hockey, modern pentathlon, taekwondo and wrestling.
While pentathlon and taekwondo have the support of senior IOC members, wrestling is not strongly represented in the IOC's decision-making body.
Tuesday’s decision to drop wrestling was made by secret ballot by the Olympic committee’s executive board at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. Reasons for the decision were not given in precise detail.
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 Games at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.