No deadlock over headlocks
February 15th, 2013
02:38 PM ET
10 years ago

No deadlock over headlocks

(CNN) - They wrangle over nearly everything else, but members of Congress from both parties have found agreement on one topic: Olympic wrestling.

Senators and representatives from both parties stood in agreement Friday against the International Olympic Committee's decision to take wrestling to the mat, eliminating the sport from the games starting in 2020. They introduced resolutions urging the IOC to reinstate it and called on the United States Olympic Committee to "work actively to reverse this decision."

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The group includes both senators from Iowa – Republican Chuck Grassley and Democrat Tom Harkin – where one of the country's largest high school state wrestling meets got underway this week. It's a tournament which is expected to draw tens of thousands of fans to Des Moines.

"Any concern over the future of wrestling as a competitive sport need only look to Des Moines this week to see the benefits the statewide high school wrestling competition brings to our students and our state," Harkin said in a statement.

He and Grassley pointed to the sport's deep roots.

"Wrestling was part of both the ancient Greek Olympic Games and the modern Olympic Games, and wrestling remains a popular sport around the world, so it's very hard to understand the Olympic Committee's decision," Grassley's statement read. "I'm hopeful that the negative public reaction to the decision and other efforts like this resolution can reverse the decision to recommend eliminating wrestling from the Summer Games."

The sport was introduced to the Olympics in 708 BC and has been part of every modern day OIympic games except in the year 1900.

The bipartisan group behind the resolutions also includes Sens. Sherrod Brown, an D-Ohio; Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania; James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma; Al Franken, D-Minnesota; and Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa; and Tim Walz, D-Minnesota.

The full Iowa delegation to Congress, as well as Gov. Terry Branstad, sent a letter to the IOC which said the decision "ignores wrestling's rich Olympic tradition."

"It is a sport where self-pride and determination battle and as a result, helps build character. Wrestling does not discriminate by age, gender or economic background," the letter read.

It is one of the United States' most successful Olympic sports, behind swimming and track and field, each of which offer more medal opportunities than wrestling.

U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said his group was "surprised" by the decision earlier this week.

"It is important to remember that today's action is a recommendation, and we hope that there will be a meaningful opportunity to discuss the important role that wrestling plays in the sports landscape both in the United States and around the world. In the meantime, we will fully support USA Wrestling and its athletes," he said.

The IOC will consider reinstating wrestling and several other sports later this year.

- CNN Political Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: Al Franken • Chuck Grassley • Jim Inhofe • Sherrod Brown • Tim Walz • Tom Harkin
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    The dropped wrestling in favor of BMX biking(???), rhythmic gymnastics(???), and other niche sport nobody watches. I don't know what they were thinking because there's not a whole lot that's "swifter, higher, and stronger" about any of the three new sports. And how could they have gotten rid of baseball?

    February 15, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  2. DBrick

    Because this is such an important decision in comparison to the deficit and unemployment.

    February 15, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  3. Peace

    Mmmmmmmmh! the picture shows a lot. No more to add.

    February 15, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. Huh?

    I thought wrestling was one of the original sports from the Olympics in ancient Greece?
    So, they drop wrestling and retain synchronized swimming and ping-pong?

    February 15, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  5. Pete

    Miracles never cease to amaze me here do they ,bipartanship over keeping wrestling in the Olympic games,what a shocker..No one asking for this in trade or a political favor of sorts,no bribes because this should be like this every day so why not break the ice now because its nice working together the R's and D's aren't they...It could be catchy right,love is in the air!!!

    February 15, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. Ron

    I've got no beef opinion about this decision on wrestling in the olympics. I find absurdity in the fact that Democrats and Republicans can come together on this non-issue but not on any of the critical issues facing our country and the world.

    February 15, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. Ken in MD

    So this is the issue Congress finally agrees on? Lovely.

    February 15, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Huh? Yes, wrestling was part of the ancient Games, and wrestling has been in the modern Games since their inception. How can you have an Olympics without Greco-Roman wrestling? That would like dropping Athletics, aka Track and Field.

    February 15, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |