Branstad, Quinn and 32 other governors work to save Olympic wrestling

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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.

The IOC recommended dropping wrestling from the Olympics beginning in 2020.  Iowa legislators sent a letter to the IOC expressing their concern in February.

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

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.


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