Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn co-signed a letter pleading with the International Olympic Committee to keep wrestling in the Olympics.
More than 23,600 signatures were gathered online for a petition supporting wrestling as an Olympic sport.
The letter, dated March 5, 2013, was sent to IOC Executive Board President Dr. Jacques Rogge.
The letter is signed by Branstad, Quinn and governors of 32 other states.
“Wrestling’s positive impact goes beyond our states and the United States of America,” the letter says, continuing to cite the estimated 180 countries that have wrestling federations in place.
Following is the letter and the list of governors who signed the letter:
March 5, 2013
Dr. Jacques Rogge
President, International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board
Château de Vidy
Case Postale 356 1001
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.
Terry E. 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