Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Burroughs fights to save wrestling

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While a number of retired wrestlers have turned in their medals in protest of the IOC’s decision to eliminate their sport from the 2020 Games, London freestyle champ Jordan Burroughs is using his words and stature instead, as he attempts to help save his sport from extinction.

Along with giving interviews, tweeting regularly, and showing solidarity with his Iranian wrestling brothers after winning a World Cup event in Tehran last month, Burroughs is working with the Committee to Preserve Olympic Wrestling to keep the conversation alive among fans of the sport.

“I’m just doing as much as I can to continue to allow this decision to be in the spotlight,” Burroughs told the AP. “I think Americans, as a nation and culture, once something is recognized for a week or two people kind of forget about.”

But it’ll take more than a couple well-placed smiles to win against the seven other prospective sports in two IOC votes, and Burroughs thinks wrestling, one of the Olympics oldest events, will need to show that it’s willing to modernize, much like squash has recently shown in its bid.

And apparently everything is on the table, including significant chances to Greco-Roman like adding leg holds. CPOW has also talked about changing the international match set of three two-minute rounds to one five-minute round, and making tweaks to the overtime format and the controversial ball-clinch rule.

“We’re definitely going to overhaul the sport. Make some rules changes to hopefully make it more exciting,” Burroughs added. “It’s tough. But people want to see more action. More points being scored.”

Winning both the May and September IOC votes after getting ousted will take the cooperation of wrestlers worldwide, and Burroughs believes that, while the decision has alarmed the group, it’s definitely put them all in lock-step toward a common goal.

“We’re competitors on the mat. But with the decision by the IOC, now everyone is coming together.”

Russian Olympic medalists gifts include racehorse

Abdulrashid Sadulaev
AP
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MOSCOW (AP) — Luxury cars, apartments, even a racehorse — being an Olympic medalist in Russia can come with great material rewards but also controversy.

Under President Vladimir Putin, it’s become a tradition for Russia’s Olympic heroes to be showered with large cash sums and sometimes unwanted gifts.

On Friday, less than 24 hours after dozens of medalists were presented with BMW cars at the Kremlin by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, an advertisement appeared online offering one of them for sale, with photographs showing the car still covered in stickers celebrating Russia’s medal haul in Rio.

The advertisement offering the BMW X6 for 4.67 million rubles ($72,000) was anonymous and quickly withdrawn. It couldn’t be independently verified by The Associated Press, though Russian agency R-Sport claimed the seller was a Russian medalist who thought the car was too big and unwieldy.

Figure skater Maxim Trankov, who received a Mercedes-Benz SUV for his gold medal in 2014, said few Olympians could afford to own such cars.

“Has no one thought that these gift cars are not only liable for the tax on luxury items, but also aren’t cheap to run and earnings can’t cover it?” he wrote on Twitter. “I’d sell mine too if it came to it … Or does everyone think all sports pay as well as soccer, hockey or tennis?”

Gymnast Seda Tutkhalyan said she wouldn’t be able to drive her new BMW because at 17 years of age she was too young to have a license.

While online commenters mostly supported an athlete’s right to sell expensive Olympic gifts, many were critical of the government for a display of conspicuous consumption at the Kremlin at a time when Russia’s pension and healthcare systems are under financial strain.

It’s not fully clear how much the prizes have cost the Russian government.

State TV channel Rossiya 24 reported that the fleet of BMWs was provided by the Olympians’ Support Fund, which is backed by a group of Russia’s richest men, but that the accompanying cash prizes of tens of thousands of dollars per medalist came in part from the federal budget.

More awards are on offer from regional governments, many of which made public displays of generosity despite financial troubles of their own.

The Caucasus region of North Ossetia last month promised a free apartment for any medalists from the area, though it isn’t clear if this has happened yet.

In another grand gesture, the head of the restive Dagestan region gave Olympic wrestling champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev 6 million rubles ($93,000) in cash and a racehorse at a lavish welcoming ceremony featured on local TV.

Still, all may not be well for Sadulaev, who’s nicknamed the “Russian Tank” for his habit of crushing opponents on the wrestling mat. He’s already facing an allegation from a Moscow radio presenter of reckless driving in his eye-catching BMW.

MORE: Putin slams Russia’s Paralympic ban

Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic venue progress video

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The next Olympics, the Pyeongchang Winter Games, are in 530 days.

Organizers of the first Winter Olympics in South Korea published a time-lapse video of venue construction on Thursday.

The video shows updates for the main coastal Olympic Park, including short- and long-track speed skating, figure skating and hockey arenas, the sliding center in the mountains and the Olympic Plaza, which will house the Olympic Stadium for Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

As NBC News reported, one concern is a potential lack of natural snow, which 2010 and 2014 Winter Games organizers had to deal with as well. Man-made snow is always a safety-net option.

MORE: Pyeongchang 2018 mascots unveiled