Iowa Governor Terry Branstad joined wrestling dignitaries from across the state to announce an effort to have the sport of wrestling reinstated to the Olympic Games. “Lets Keep Wrestling” is a lobbying effort aimed at the International Olympic Committee which earlier this week voted to remove wrestling from the 2020 games.
A website was launched on Thursday and includes a petition that supporters have been asked to sign. Branstad says he wanted to become involved because wrestling is part of the fabric of Iowa.
“In just a few weeks we’re gonna have the NCAA finals right here. That is probably the hardest ticket to get. That tells you how the people of Iowa feel about wrestling,” Branstad says. “So when wrestling in threatened, the number one elected official in the state, the governor, I believe should lead the fight.”
Branstad says the hope is it will become part of the international effort to have the decision reversed. “And this is bigger than our state, but Iowa is kind of the epicenter of wrestling and we want to do all we can to support keeping this Olympic sport,” the governor says.
Former Olympic gold medalist and Iowa coach Dan Gable acknowledges it will be a tough fight to have the decision reversed but he says it has happened before and the backlash to this week’s vote has been unlike anything the IOC has experienced before.
“With the passion from people from all over the world that’s already formed — if we weren’t a huge entity, we would have no chance. But because we have people all over the world, we will have a good opportunity. For better or worse, because it will not stop in May, it will not stop in September, we will continue to climb the ladder until we are back in,” Gable says.
Gable says regardless of the outcome their needs to be changes in the leadership at FILA, the international governing body for wrestling, and some changes in the rules as well. Other coaches representing the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University also attended the event.
The entire Iowa Congressional Delegation has joined the Governor and Lieutenant governor to sign a letter to the International Olympic Committee Board (IOC) urging it to reconsider the removal of wrestling as an Olympic sport following the 2016 Olympic Games.
You can go to the Let’s Keep Wrestling website and sign a petition to help the effort.
AUDIO of news conference, 20:00