2020 Olympic Wrestling – What are the Odds?

I wish my crystal ball was a little clearer regarding next month when the IOC revisits their recommendation to drop wrestling. But I want to remind everyone that they shouldn’t be misled by IOC’s use of the word “recommendation.” Corporations often use the term when they really mean, “we’ve made a decision.” It’s a way to muzzle those whose ox was just gored, or is about to be gored. In no way does this term mean the sport doesn’t have a chance of recovery if we play our cards right. It’s simply means the IOC is using it as a measure to delay any retaliatory attack our sport may wish to launch.

So what are the odds of getting wrestling restored? You’ll read that at the end of the blog. Until then, for reinstatement, wrestling has to have two perfect storms occur within a five month period.

The first one has to happen during the IOC’s Board meeting next month. They have to find a way to reverse earlier conclusions and make wrestling one of three finalists that the entire International Olympic Committee will vote on in September.  This will happen for two reasons:

  1.  The incredible international outcry that has taken place over wrestling’s demise. Dozens of significant countries have stepped up and are playing a major role in making their opinions heard. Here in America, powerbrokers like Mike Novogratz, Dana White, John Bardis, Andrew Barth and Donald Rumsfeld have inserted themselves in the fight and are filling our void in leadership. When all this ends we will owe each of them, regardless of the outcome, far more than any debt of gratitude can repay.
  2.  Next, the IOC Board, after recommending the discontinuance of wrestling, now has the opportunity to be empathetic toward our cause and clever at the same time. They will dump the final decision in the laps of the entire International Olympic Committee to decide. In Washington, the technique is called the Potomac Two-Step.

The second perfect storm will be more difficult to create. It will center on how slick the Committee to Preserve Olympic Wrestling is at:

  1. Providing the IOC with a way to save face without weakening their ability for future governance.
  2. Explaining to the other sports who were led to believe they had a chance of inclusion, only to find out they didn’t, what just happened?

No matter how it’s sliced, this is going to be a challenge for both the IOC and the CPOW.

So what are the IOC’s options?

  1. Leave the recommendation in place, so-long wrestling.
  2. Reinstate the sport, sorry about the inconvenience.
  3. Keep wrestling out of the 2020 and 2024 Games as a core sport but allow it to compete as a demonstration sport. This option has face saving appeal for the IOC.
  4. Tell wrestling they can come back in 2024 if they use the time between now and then to clean house and transform the sport. This is the equivalent of sending the child to bed without his supper for being bad. It’s a real possibility.
  5. Bring the sport back but eliminate men’s Freestyle and use the newly created openings to add yet another sport. I can see the IOC doing this; it has appeal written all over it. Remember the IOC considered removing one of our two disciplines about 10 years ago.
  6. I saved the most interesting possibility for last; making the IOC an offer they couldn’t refuse. It’s been reported that the Russian equivalent of Don Corleone thinks of wrestling as being a part of his family. Can you imagine how much pressure he can exert on the IOC Board; and their knees? Talk about a game changer.

So what’s going to happen?

As I see it, there will be a lot of compelling conversations and suggestive coercions between now and September among individuals most of us don’t know. The outcome of which will be the reinstatement of wrestling for the 2020 Games; but with house cleaning conditions that will devastate FILA and severely impact the leadership in Colorado Springs.

A sidebar thought.

Where in the world are the women’s groups regarding this effort? They are always the first to weigh-in (pun intended) when it comes to supporting their movement. This isn’t a guy’s only thing that is taking place here.

What’s on the menu for next week?

I’m going to cover the three things FILA needs to do if they are serious about getting the sport back; become fan friendly, less susceptible to corruption and revenue solvent.

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