Wrestling’s impact on possible 2020 Hosts

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We’ve seen a more than passionate response from American wrestling fans after Tuesday’s recommendation by the IOC to eliminate the sport from the 2020 Olympics program. But the outrage has stretched worldwide, and it just so happens that wrestling is a major sport for two of the three countries bidding to host the 2020 Olympics, likely the first Games without the sport since 1900.

Here’s a quick look at the nations:

Turkey
Possible host city: Istanbul
Population: Roughly 73 million
Wrestling medals: 58, including 28 gold
Sport’s success ranking: First, national sport
Athletes in London: 13, tied for third most
Notable response:  “It is plain wrong to drop wrestling, which is one of the main branches in Olympics. Combat sports have similar struggles. Sports with more glamour are preferred nowadays. But I believe the decision must be reviewed.” – Turkish Wrestling Federation Chairman Hamza Yerlikaya

Japan
Possible host city: Tokyo
Population: Roughly 127 million
Wrestling medals: 62, including 28 gold
Sport’s success ranking: Third, behind only judo and gymnastics
Athletes in London: 13, tied for third most
Notable response: “The final verdict has not been made… Everything will depend on our efforts and actions from now. We have been in the Olympics from the start, so there was always the feeling of reassurance that it was a key sport.” – Japan Wrestling Federation President Tomiaki Fukuda

And while wrestling isn’t a major sport in Spain, which hopes to host the Games in Madrid, Maider Unda won the country its first Olympic wrestling medal last summer in London.

What to watch at Drake Relays, Penn Relays

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Olympic gold medalists ramp up their track and field seasons at the Penn Relays and Drake Relays, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold this weekend.

Athletes are working toward the U.S. Championships in June and the world championships in August.

First, the historic Penn Relays will air on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on Friday (5:30-6:30 p.m. ET) and Saturday (12:30-3 p.m. ET).

USA vs. The World in men’s and women’s 4x100m, 4x400m and sprint medley relays will air live on Saturday from Franklin Field in Philadelphia. A full schedule is here.

The U.S. teams are led by Olympic relay champions English Gardner and Natasha Hastings. The full roster is here.

Rio Olympic rematches highlight the individual-event fields at the Drake Relays in Des Moines on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold from 3-5 p.m ET on Saturday. A full schedule is here.

Perhaps no field is deeper than the 100m hurdles. World-record holder Keni Harrison takes on Rio silver and bronze medalists Kristi Castlin and Nia Ali, plus 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson.

The 110m hurdles contingent is strong as well. It features the last two Olympic champions, Jamaican Omar McLeod and American Aries Merritt, plus 2013 World champion David Oliver.

Grenada’s Kirani James and American LaShawn Merritt, who earned silver and bronze in Rio, go head-to-head again in the 400m at Drake.

The men’s 1500m is headlined by Rio Olympic 800m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy and London Olympic 1500m silver medalist Leo Manzano.

Rio bronze medalist Jenny Simpson races individually for the first time this year in the women’s 1500m.

That field also includes New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin, who gained fame of her own in Rio. Hamblin and American Abbey D’Agostino fell in an Olympic 5000m heat and helped each other make it to the finish line. Both were praised for their sportsmanship.

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IOC president unsure whether esports should be considered sport

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Esports are gaining momentum in the international sports movement, but they are not close to becoming an Olympic sport.

“We are not yet 100 percent clear whether esports is really sport, with regard to physical activity and what it needs to be considered sport,” IOC president Thomas Bach said Tuesday, according to insidethegames. “We do not see an organization or a structure that will give us confidence, or guarantee, that in this area the Olympic rules and values of sport are respected and in place, and that the implementation of these rules are monitored and secured.”

The first clear step (of many) to become an Olympic sport is for the IOC to recognize the sport’s international governing body.

Esports will be added as a medal sport to the Asian Games in 2022, and has been praised by LA 2024 Olympic bid chairman Casey Wasserman, but it is not yet IOC recognized.

“We are watching it, we see the differences, we see the lack of organisation,” Bach said, according to the report. “But we also see the high engagement of youth in esports. Therefore, we have to carefully consider how this could be consolidated.”

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