Turkish Coup May Impact Two Returning World Champs

Turkish Coup May Impact Two Returning World Champs

The wrestling world rarely dips its toe into geopolitical waters. In fact, we have a tendency to overlook things on purpose, citing wrestling's all-inclusiv

Jul 19, 2016 by Mike Mal
Turkish Coup May Impact Two Returning World Champs
The wrestling world rarely dips its toe into geopolitical waters. In fact, we have a tendency to overlook things on purpose, citing wrestling's all-inclusive nature for our ignorance. Whether we want to examine it or not the attempted coup that is happening right now in Turkey could very well affect the wrestling world.

If you kept an eye on CNN it depicted the pro-coup military vehicles making their way down streets crammed with people that seemed to be fervent supporters of President Erdogan. What the TV hasn't been able to show you is that this coup was well orchestrated and occurred on many different fronts. There was an unsuccessful attempt on Mr. Erdogan's life early Friday in the Mediterranean Resort town of Marmaris. There have been 194 people reported dead most of which a result of a helicopter attack in Ankara.

So what does this mean to wrestling? If President Erdogan's past actions are any indication of what he'll do once this coup has subsided (which at the present time it seems to be), his retaliation will be swift and decisive. There may be a chance that he prevents all athletes from attending the Olympic Games in Rio. There is a good possibility that any athlete proven (or suspected) to have family ties sympathetic to the revolt will be punished, which may also leave them watching The Games from home.

One of the reasons that Turkey has proven to be such a strong ally of the U.S. as of late is because of the countries that it borders, most notably, Syria. While Syria Iraq are not wrestling powerhouses, but Georgia is. Given the current tumultuous political climate you may eventually see some Turkish athletes hopping borders and competing under a different flag.

Turkey has two returning world champions, Riza Kayaalp won gold in Greco at 130kg, Taha Akgul won at 125 kg in freestyle. The prospect of either heavy weight bracket without a Turk dramatically changes the landscape. The Rio Olympics are a few short weeks away and between  the Russian doping scandal and now a full on military coup going on in Turkey it's not a great start the XXXI Olympiad.