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SBD/February 13, 2013/Olympics
What Role Did Politics Play In IOC's Decision To Cut Wrestling From Olympic Program?
Published February 13, 2013
POLITICS RULE THE DAY: FOXSPORTS.com's Reid Forgrave wrote dropping wrestling on the surface is "simply a dumb, shortsighted decision, based on fleeting things like television ratings." But "deeper down, there’s a stench of something unsavory here." It feels like another "politically motivated decision by the most political organization in sports" (FOXSPORTS.com, 2/12). In Pittsburgh, Dejan Kovacevic writes the IOC is the "shadiest sporting outfit in the world this side of FIFA, moved almost entirely by politics and by money, over and under the table" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 2/13). With reports stating FILA did not lobby as hard as modern pentathlon did to stay in the Games, the L.A. TIMES' Bill Dwyre writes, "These are games won or lost not on the playing field, but standing alongside a bar, a glass of fine Bordeaux in hand" (L.A. TIMES, 2/13). In N.Y., Filip Bondy writes the 15-member IOC exec board, "forever opaque and illogical, could not possibly have behaved more inscrutably than on Tuesday." If only the IOC board "felt accountable to its public, rather than to its buddy system, perhaps we might have been told the real, political reason behind this demotion." Instead, "we are left to guess at motive" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/13).
EURO TRIP: In San Diego, Mark Zeigler writes eliminating what is "perceived as ... another 'American' sport" could be "further evidence of the Europe-ification of the Olympic movement, in much the same way that the removal of baseball and softball after 2008 was" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/13). Former USOC CEO Jim Scherr, who wrestled in the '88 Seoul Games, said, "I do think it is a reflection of the Eurocentric nature of the IOC board, the IOC membership as a whole. It may not be a deliberate slap at the U.S. or Russia or the Middle East, but it certainly can be taken that way because they didn't have strong representation." USA Wrestling Exec Dir Rich Bender said that the decision was "made by uninformed individuals who don't understand the diversity and international reach of his sport." Scherr added that at the "same time, it appeared international wrestling officials weren't as persuasive as those in other sports" (USA TODAY, 2/13).