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Gov. Bullock Fights to Keep Wrestling in Olympics

By Beacon Staff

Gov. Steve Bullock is calling on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to keep wrestling as an Olympic sport.

Bullock co-signed a letter with 33 other governors that urges the committee to reconsider its recent decision to remove wrestling from the Olympics, effective in 2020.

Bullock, a former high school wrestler, cited Montana’s proud wrestling traditions, including sending two grapplers from Big Sky Country to the Olympic Games. Gene Davis from Missoula earned a bronze medal in 1976 and Great Falls native Mike Zadick competed on the Olympic team in 2008.

“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,” the governors wrote.

“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.”

Here’s the full text of the letter sent today to Jacques Rogge, the president of the IOC:

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.