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Public Statements

Governors Fight to Keep Wrestling in Olympics

The following is the full text of the letter, including the bipartisan 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.

Sincerely,

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


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