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|CPOW Weekly Update for March 4, 2013|
By The Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling
The Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW) is a group of wrestling leaders assembled by USA Wrestling after February 12, when the IOC Executive Board recommended that wrestling not be a core sport at the 2020 Olympics. It is our charge to oversee the effort within the United States, as part of the massive international coalition being formed to retain wrestling in the Olympics.
So much has gone on within the effort to Keep Wrestling In the Olympics in the last 20 days and so much more will be going on over the next seven months. Those of us who serve with CPOW are fully committed to communicating regularly with the wrestling community and the general public about what has transpired and what to expect next. You can anticipate a weekly update on our efforts.
• Wrestling is not out of the Olympics. The IOC Executive Board has made a recommendation that wrestling not be included among the 25 core sports for the 2020 Olympics. Wrestling will be included as a core sport at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is fair to say that this is a very powerful recommendation, and that the challenge facing wrestling will not be easy. However, within the IOC process, there are ways that wrestling can remain a core Olympic sport in 2020 and beyond.
• Wrestling can only succeed in its mission to remain a core sport on the Olympic program if there is an effective and successful international effort to provide the IOC and the world with the facts about wrestling that explains why it belongs in the Olympic Games. The United States will be a leader in this worldwide effort, but we will need to work closely with our brothers and sisters in wrestling around the world.
• There are two key dates on the IOC calendar which are part of the process to determine the program for the 2020 Olympics. The first date is in St. Petersburg, Russia, May 29-31. The IOC Executive Board will review wrestling, along with seven other candidate sports for the Olympic program, and will recommend up to three of those seven sports for the 2020 Olympics. The next key date is September 7-10 in Buenos, Aires, Argentina, when the IOC General Assembly meets. There they will vote whether to accept the Executive Board recommendation of the 25 core sports for the 2020 Olympic Games, and then will vote on which one sport will be added to the program for 2020 and 2024. The international strategy for wrestling will be based upon success at these key meetings.
• The leadership and the structure of the effort within the United States have been established with the creation of CPOW: The Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling. There are now 20 major wrestling leaders on CPOW, each who has made a major impact on the sport in our nation. Bill Scherr is the chairperson, Jim Scherr is the co-chairperson, Mike Novogratz is the spokesman and John Bardis directs Development and Fundraising. Legends such as Dan Gable, Bruce Baumgartner, Rulon Gardner and Clarissa Chun are on the team. CPOW has been meeting twice a week since it was formed, and has already been able to make progress in working with the international effort and mobilizing the American public. The mission of CPOW is to ensure that wrestling remains as a core sport of the Olympic Games. To see the members of CPOW and to see its mission and objectives, visit:
• This week, CPOW has completed its working structure of committees and subcommittees, the groups of leaders who will be working on specific areas of the overall effort. Three committees have been established to handle 1) International Relations; 2) Public Relations and Marketing; 3) Development and Finance. These committees are meeting every week and report directly to CPOW on their efforts. Within each committee, there are a number of subcommittees which will oversee specific tasks and projects. The subcommittees are also meeting every week. The work is underway on all of these tasks.
• There have already been some important changes and improvements made by FILA, the international wrestling federation, which is responsible for wrestling’s relationship with the IOC. The FILA Bureau had a previously scheduled meeting in Thailand just days after the IOC announcement. At these meetings, FILA president Raphael Martinetti of Switzerland stepped down after 10 years in office. A new Acting President was elected, longtime wrestling leader Nenad Lalovic of Serbia. President Lalovic appointed FILA Vice President Stan Dziedzic of the USA as his top assistant. Added to the FILA Bureau was former USOC CEO Jim Scherr of the USA, along with three-time Olympic champion and Russian parliament member Alexander Karelin and Pedro Gama Filho, president of the Brazilian wrestling federation. In the time since he was elected, President Lalovic has reached out to establish a better working relationship with the IOC, while working within wrestling to make FILA a more effective organization. President Lalovic is scheduled to meet with IOC President Jacques Rogge in person on March 7 to discuss what wrestling must do in regards to the Olympic program.
• International relations efforts have already begun. FILA Bureau member Stan Dziedzic went to Thailand to lead the effort within the FILA Bureau. Executive Director Rich Bender went to Iran to work on the international coalition. New FILA Bureau member Jim Scherr has been to FILA headquarters in Switzerland to assist the new FILA president and its staff in all aspects of its international strategy. This week, Stan Dziedzic and international public relations expert Bob Condron will also go to FILA headquarters to help set up an effective media and communications effort there. Bob Condron worked 30 years as a top media relations executive at the USOC, served on the IOC Press Commission and is part of our wrestling effort. More key trips around the world are planned for American wrestling leaders. FILA is also in the process of hiring one of the world’s most respected international strategy firms to help formulate and execute an effective plan and presentation.
• There have been two major international wrestling competitions held around the world in the last two weeks. First was the World Cup for both men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman, held in Tehran, Iran. Sell-out crowds were at the Azadi Sports Arena in Tehran to witness this popular event, and the world’s most important international media was there to report on the goodwill between the nations and the international effort to retain the sport in the Olympics. Amazing reports from Iran were aired on ABC Nightly News and on CNN. USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender was effective in creating a coalition of major wrestling nations who will work together on behalf of the sport. The second big event was the Women’s World Cup, held in Mongolia this past week. Once again, meetings were held between the nations at the competition, and the unified effort among nations behind Olympic wrestling was on display.
• A fundraising effort has begun to cover the costs that must be invested in order to achieve our mission. In just our first 20 days, there has been $1 million raised, which includes both cash donations and pledges. This is only a start, because effective public relations campaigns both domestically and internationally are not only expensive to execute, they are crucial to our goal. That is why CPOW has identified that it must raise much more in order to successfully execute a winning game plan. There are many aspects to the fundraising program, which includes large contributors, corporate support, individual public donations, support from organizations and merchandising efforts. Money can be given online or through the mail, as well as by purchasing a “Keep Olympic Wrestling” shirt. We are counting on everybody who cares about wrestling to do what they can to support the effort financially. Every dollar donated to this effort will be spent only on keeping wrestling in the Olympics. Donations are also tax-deductible. Go to KeepWrestlingInTheOlympics.com if you want to donate.
• Unifying the wrestling community and getting everybody directly involved in helping keep Olympic wrestling is a big part of a winning plan. We are starting the process of getting emails and contact information on 2,020,000 people in America willing to do what it takes, from signing petitions to sending letters to contacting their elected officials to attending public events. There is a place for anybody who wants to help. In order to do this effectively, CPOW has established a website, Facebook page and other social media outlets to communicate this effort. All of these platforms will be improved and expanded as the campaign is put into action.
Public Relations Campaign
• CPOW knows that it can not win by itself and must include professional services in certain key areas. CPOW has secured a successful marketing firm, KOM in Colorado Springs, Colo. to help establish the framework for the brand message and the grassroots operations of the program. The Vision 2020 program, which is soon to be launched, will provide a consistent focus for all of our public activities at all levels.
• An effective public relations program has also been developed, utilizing USA Wrestling staff, volunteer leaders from the industry and help from a professional firm. CPOW is finalizing its agreement with Ketchum, considered one of the best public relations firms in the world, to be our partner in this effort. Literally thousands of articles and television reports have already been created about the Olympic wrestling effort. Last week, a highly successful media teleconference was held featuring Rich Bender, Jim Scherr and Coleman Scott, resulting in extensive coverage. We are enlisting spokespersons for wrestling, including celebrities, professional athletes, politicians, business leaders and others. Perhaps you have seen recent public support from Donald Rumsfeld, John Irving, Billy Baldwin, Jay Mohr and others. A strategic public relations plan is being executed on a daily basis on behalf of the wrestling community.
• An initiative to introduce symbolic legislation supporting Olympic wrestling is underway in Congress in Washington, D.C., as well as resolutions in the legislatures in almost a dozen states. This will continue moving forward as we seek support from all levels of government in our nation and around the world.
• A Coalition has come together to Keep Wrestling In the Olympics. Behind this effort are four wrestling organizations (USA Wrestling, NWCA, AAU, NUWAY) who kicked off the coalition last week, and invited all other groups to get on board. This includes groups of any size and mission, including both non-profit and for-profit groups, those involved in sports and those that focus on other things. Whether you are a local wrestling club, a private corporation, a membership association or any other group, you can join. All that is necessary is a donation and the contact information of a person from the group who will be part of the effort. Dozens of groups are already on board, with a goal of thousands.
• Many other things are in the works as we speak. You can expect a presence for the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines in late March. Major USA Wrestling events will also be a showcase for this effort, including the U.S. Open and World Team Trials. We will have a presence at local wrestling events and activities all across America. Exciting special events in the United States and around the world will be established in the next few months, to showcase wrestling to the IOC, the media and the world. We are excited about all of the possibilities we will have to demonstrate why wrestling belongs in the Olympics forever.
We ask one thing from the wrestling community. Please stay informed and stay involved. You can do this by registering on www.KeepWrestlingintheOlympics.com We will give you weekly updates on the activities of CPOW and the international wrestling community so you can truly be a part of the solution.