Members of the U.S. wrestling team shook hands and took pictures with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at an awards ceremony on Friday, after they finished third in a tournament in Tehran.
The American and Iranian wrestling teams, which were in Iran’s capital to compete in a freestyle wrestling World Cup event, are fighting “arm-in-arm” for the survival of their sport after it was recommended to be removed from the 2020 Olympics schedule by the IOC in a vote last week during an executive board meeting.
The cooperation between the nations is being compared to the famous “Ping-pong Diplomacy” of the early-1970s, when U.S. and Chinese players competed against one another in friendly tournaments that many believe paved the way for then President Nixon to visit Beijing.
The U.S. and Iran have had poor diplomatic relations since 1979 Islamic Revolution, when protestors stormed the American embassy and held 52 people hostage for 444 days.
Iran ended up finishing first in the team event Friday, beating Russia in the finals, while Americans Jordan Burroughs, Obenson Blanc, Joseph Kennedy, Harold Metcalf, John Askren, Tervel Dlagnev, and James Bergman scored a 6-1 record against Belarus to take the bronze.
Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova will miss the Russian Championships later this month and will likely sit out this whole season but still hopes to defend her title in Pyeongchang, according to R-Sport.
Earlier this year, Sotnikova stopped preseason training due to a health issue, decided not to compete but rather perform in less-demanding ice shows this fall, according to the report, citing her manager.
Sotnikova, 20, last competed at the 2015 Russian Championships, finishing sixth and failing to make the three-woman Russian team for last season’s European and world championships.
She did not compete in major events in the 2014-15 season due to injury and in 2015-16 skated at one top-level international event, finishing third at the November 2015 Rostelecom Cup in Moscow.
In Sochi, Sotnikova became the first Olympic women’s figure skating champion without a prior Olympic or world championships individual medal.
Russian women’s figure skating has only solidified in Sotnikova’s absence since Sochi, complicating her path to making the 2018 Olympic team.
Yevgenia Medvedeva and Anna Pogorilaya were the two best female skaters this fall. Yelena Radionova and Maria Sotskova will join them in the six-skater Grand Prix Final this week.
Russia can send three women to the European Championships in January and world championships in March. The results of the Russian Championships later this month will largely determine the makeup of those teams.
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Tokyo 2020 venues for the new Olympic sports of baseball, softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were approved by the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday.
That brings the total number of Tokyo 2020 venues to 39, with the potential for more.
The venues for new sports:
Baseball/softball — Yokohama Stadium (20 miles south of Tokyo)
Karate — Nippon Budokan
Skateboarding and Sport Climbing — Aomi Urban Sports Venue
Surfing — Tsurigasaki Beach
All of the new sports do not currently have a spot on the Olympic program beyond 2020 (baseball and softball were previously on the Olympic program before being taken off after Beijing 2008).
Agenda 2020 reforms allowed Olympic host cities to propose the addition of sports for their Games only, which is what Tokyo 2020 did to get them on the program.
The Tokyo Olympic venues are split between two zones — the Heritage Zone and the Tokyo Bay Zone — that are separated by the Olympic Village.
Tokyo 2020 and FIFA are still discussing the finalization of soccer venues. There are currently six, including two in Tokyo and one as far away as Sapporo (650 miles north).
Tokyo 2020 and the World Baseball Softball Confederation are still discussing the potential of adding a second baseball-softball venue in Fukushima prefecture, the site of 2011 nuclear plant meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami. Fukushima is about 150 miles north of Tokyo.
The Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants and several MLB and World Baseball Classic games, is not a 2020 Olympic venue.
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