(DES MOINES, IA) – Iowa Governor Terry Branstad today released a letter, co-signed by a bipartisan group of 33 governors, calling on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to keep wrestling an Olympic sport. After asking Iowa’s congressional delegation to co-sign a letter to the Olympic committee, Branstad began focusing on bringing together governors in an effort to keep the great sport in the Olympics.

Olympic Freestyle Wrestling 2012 London Olympics

The letter, sent to International Olympic Committee Executive Board President Dr. Jacques Rogge, urges the committee to reconsider their recent decision to remove wrestling as an Olympic sport, effective in 2020.

“The Olympic Games are meant to provide a venue for people from all nations to overcome differences and forge lasting relationships and wrestling has contributed to these Olympic attributes,” the governors write.  “We believe that renewing or renovating the Olympics should respect key Olympic traditions. We would also encourage a transparent voting system for future votes on which sports should be included as part of the Olympic Games. As public servants, we hold transparency as a sacred principle and we would encourage the IOC to abide by that same principle.”

The following is the full text of the letter, including the bipartisan list of governors who joined Gov. Branstad in signing on to the letter:

March 5, 2013

Dr. Jacques Rogge
President, International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board
Château de Vidy
Case Postale 356 1001
Lausanne Switzerland

Dear President Rogge:

As governors of states with rich wrestling traditions, we write to express our concerns regarding the recent decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to remove wrestling as an Olympic sport in the 2020 Olympic Games. We strongly urge the IOC to reconsider its position and vote to extend wrestling’s long legacy within the Olympic Games.

Wrestling was a key sport in ancient civilization and its inclusion in the Olympics has continued to enrich the ongoing Olympic tradition. Early Olympic organizers recognized wrestling’s unique and global importance by including the sport in the 1896 Olympic Games held in Athens. Wrestling has been a key part of the Olympic movement ever since.

The same spirit of competition that drove ancient wrestlers has transcended generations, and our states are the beneficiaries of this spirit. Wrestling accelerates character building. At its core, wrestling is an instinct and embodies the human qualities of hard work, discipline, and perseverance. Dan Gable, an Olympic gold medalist and former US Olympic wrestling coach, succinctly summarized wrestling’s character building characteristics when he stated, “Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.”

Wrestling’s positive impact goes beyond our states and the United States of America. Forms of wrestling have been important parts of cultures worldwide, including China, Ukraine, Japan, Russia, Turkey, and many other countries. Soviet and Russian wrestlers have won 77 gold medals at past Olympic Games. Moreover, wrestling federations exist in approximately 180 countries and the recent London Olympic Games had wrestlers from over 70 countries.

The Olympic Games are meant to provide a venue for people from all nations to overcome differences and forge lasting relationships and wrestling has contributed to these Olympic attributes. We believe that renewing or renovating the Olympics should respect key Olympic traditions. We would also encourage a transparent voting system for future votes on which sports should be included as part of the Olympic Games. As public servants, we hold transparency as a sacred principle and we would encourage the IOC to abide by that same principle.

We encourage your prompt reconsideration of your decision regarding wrestling. We hope that wrestling will continue to be an important part of the Olympic tradition.

Sincerely,

  • Terry Branstad, Governor of Iowa
  • Robert Bentley, Governor of Alabama
  • Sean Parnell, Governor of Alaska
  • Mike Beebe, Governor of Arkansas
  • John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado
  • Dannel P. Malloy, Governor of Connecticut
  • Jack Markell, Governor of Delaware
  • Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia
  • Pat Quinn, Governor of Illinois
  • Sam Brownback, Governor of Kansas
  • Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana
  • Paul LePage, Governor of Maine
  • Martin O’Malley, Governor of Maryland
  • Rick Snyder, Governor of Michigan
  • Mark Dayton, Governor of Minnesota
  • Steve Bullock, Governor of Montana
  • Dave Heineman, Governor of Nebraska
  • Brian Sandoval, Governor of Nevada
  • Maggie Hassan, Governor of New Hampshire
  • Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey
  • Pat McCrory, Governor of North Carolina
  • John Kasich, Governor of Ohio
  • Mary Fallin, Governor of Oklahoma
  • John Kitzhaber, M.D., Governor of Oregon
  • Tom Corbett, Governor of Pennsylvania
  • Alejandro García Padilla, Governor of Puerto Rico
  • Lincoln Chafee, Governor of Rhode Island
  • Dennis Daugaard, Governor of South Dakota
  • Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee
  • Gary Herbert, Governor of Utah
  • Peter Shumlin, Governor of Vermont
  • Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin
  • Matt Mead, Governor of Wyoming

Photo Credit: Simononly via Flickr (CC-By-3.0)

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