Wrestling must eye World Games spot
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While all the lobbying, cajoling, powerpoint presenting and voting for the lone sport that will make it to the 2020 Olympic programme occurs at International Olympic Committee's St Petersburg meeting (May) and eventual elimination at Buenos Aires (September), Cali in Colombia will be a hub of much backdoor and real time social networking in international sport.
One of South America's trendiest cities, Cali hosts the lesser-known but massively crucial World Games, a multi-sport event that boasts of almost all of the fringe sports vying for the Olympics from July 25 to August 4 this year.
Wrestling, battling elimination from sport's grandest show, would do well to keep an eye on this at-first-glance just a side-show. Better still, Fila ought to - on an immediate basis - demand an 'invitational' spot for itself at this quadrennial used by the IOC in the past to cast its critical evaluative gaze on sports eyeing Olympic entry.
Wushu, roller sports and softball sure have booked their pitch-tents in Colombia, even as squash, karate, wakeboarding and sport climbing have eased their way into the contender's long-list.
If fight it must - never mind if or if not it makes it through the St Petersburg shortlist - wrestling needs to take a humble step back and use this avenue to the fullest to flaunt its worth.
The IOC too would do well to showcase all the potential eight contenders and beam these World Games into homes across the world, so that even the voting members - the 100-odd from IOC's general assembly - are well-acquainted with what precisely they are voting for.
Presentations and secret-ballot have for long been allowed to veil blatant lobbying, while transparency has never been one of IOC's virtues. But the World Games can in the future serve as open examinations, where sports exhibit their capabilities of being popular and modern, and responses are gauged first-hand, rather than scribbled into vague criterion behind closed doors in academic and slightly silly to sound 'presentations'.