Matt Kryger-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Mikaela Shiffrin plans to return next week

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin plans to race the next World Cup slalom in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, next Monday, according to her social media.

Shiffrin, 20 and the reigning Olympic, World and World Cup slalom champion, has been out since suffering a right MCL tear and a bone fracture in a Dec. 12 warm-up crash.

Her timetable for a return this season has shifted in the last eight weeks.

The rescheduling of a canceled Jan. 31 slalom for next Monday changed her previous plans to return the final weekend of February.

“Our goal is to have her be really close to 100 percent, if not 100 percent [before competing],” said Shiffrin’s mother, Eileen, in an earlier Denver Post report. “We’ve heard all these horror stories about athletes who went back too soon and then sustained injuries that did end their careers.”

The World Cup season concludes March 20. There are four slaloms left on the calendar, and Shiffrin trails slalom standings leader Frida Hansdotter by 305 points.

A winner receives 100 points per victory, so Shiffrin could take her fourth straight World Cup season title, but it would all but require her to win all four remaining slaloms and for Hansdotter (and others) to struggle.

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Tony Parker plans to play in Olympic qualifying, Rio Games

Tony Parker
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Tony Parker said he plans to play in both Olympic qualifying in July and the Rio Games in August, according to L’Equipe.

Parker, 33, previously said he could miss the tournaments this summer, at least in part due to his wife’s pregnancy, according to French media.

Parker said his wife is due in late July, which would fall in between France’s Olympic qualifying tournament (July 4-10 in the Philippines) and the Rio Games (Aug. 6-21).

Parker led France at the 2012 Olympics with 15.7 points per game. The French lost two games in London, to the gold medalist U.S. in group play and silver medalist Spain in the quarterfinals.

Parker led all players with 19 points per game at 2013 EuroBasket, won by France.

In September, Parker and France fell in the EuroBasket semifinals to Spain in a winner-goes-to-Rio game.

The defeat forced France to a last-chance, winner-take-all, six-team Olympic qualifying tournament in the Philippines in July.

In the Philippines, France will face a field that includes Canada, which had nine NBA players on its roster (including Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins) at August’s FIBA Americas yet was stunned in a winner-goes-to-Rio game by Venezuela, which had zero NBA players.

France is likely to be without Chicago Bulls All-Star Joakim Noah this summer as he underwent season-ending left shoulder surgery in January and hasn’t played a major tournament for the national team since 2011 EuroBasket.

Other French NBA players include Charlotte Hornets swingman Nicolas Batum, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw and Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier.

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