By James Crook

149906514May 22 - British bookmakers William Hill have installed wrestling as the 8/11 odds-on favourite to secure its place on the Olympic sports programme for 2020, with squash coming in narrowly behind at 7/4.

Despite the controversial decision in February by the International Olympic Committee's ruling Executive Board to recommend that wrestling be dropped from the list of core sports after Rio 2016, its mammoth campaign to keep the sport at the Games looks to have given them pole position as the race nears its much-awaited conclusion.

However, squash has emerged as a major threat to wrestling's hopes of clinching the final place on the Olympic sports programme for 2020, and is priced as second favourite at under 2/1.

Behind the two sports most expected to triumph in the bid race are joint-third favourites wushu, karate and sport climbing some way back at 12/1, followed by baseball/softball at 16/1, wakeboarding at 25/1 and roller sports as the rank outsider at 33/1.

Karate's odds have slipped dramatically since the last time William Hill published a book on the bidding sports, back last June, when they had them at 1/2 to win with squash evens.

168928540Wrestling has had huge worldwide support and is the current favourite with British bookmakers to preserve its Olympic status 

But they were published before wrestling had joined the seven other sports.

All eight are due to give a presentation to the IOC Executive Board in St Petersburg on May 29 after which it is widely expected that a shortlist of three will be drawn up for the full Session to vote on in Buenos Aires on September 10.

"Wrestling has only just been booted out of the Olympics and look set to make a swift return, although squash, which has been so successful at the Commonwealth Games will certainly be pushing for inclusion in 2020," said William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly.

The full odds from William Hill are as follows:

8/11 Wrestling
7/4 Squash
12/1 Karate
12/1 Wushu
12/1 Sport Climbing
16/1 Baseball/Softball
25/1 Wake boarding
33/1 Roller Sports

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