Iowa lawmakers oppose Olympic wrestling decision
DES MOINES – Iowa lawmakers joined the push to keep wrestling in the Olympics, passing resolutions Thursday that ask the International Olympic Committee to reconsider dropping the sport from the 2020 Summer Games.
The resolutions coincided with the beginning of the NCAA wrestling championships in Des Moines.
“While Texas may have a rich tradition in football and Indiana in basketball, we here in Iowa are known for our wrestling,” Sen. Tod Bowman, D-Maquoketa, said. “We are the capital of the world when it comes to our wrestling.”
The IOC executive board voted last month to drop wrestling from the Olympics starting in 2020, though wrestling officials worldwide are working tirelessly to ensure the sport remains a core event.
Gov. Terry Branstad has launched a campaign called “Let’s Keep Wrestling,” which has the support of the state’s congressional delegation. Nearly 25,000 people have signed an online petition. Officials in the United States, Russia and Iran have also expressed disappointment with the IOC’s decision.
Famed Iowa wrestler Dan Gable, who won a gold medal in the 1972 Olympics, appeared in the House and the Senate on Thursday. Gable, also the University of Iowa’s wrestling coach from 1977 to 1997, said all of the efforts were helping to educate Olympic officials about the support for the sport.
“We won’t stop. We will go until we get it back,” Gable said, noting that the Olympics are the top contest for amateur wrestling.
Wrestling, which was featured in the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896, will still be a part of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Wrestling is now competing with seven other sports for a single opening on the 2020 program, which will be finalized by the IOC in September.