Bipartisan Group Of Senators Push To Keep Wrestling In The Olympic Games

Six Senators Urge Reversal of International Olympic Committee Recommendation to Eliminate Wrestling from the Olympics Beginning in 2020; Olympic Wrestling—One of the Original Olympic Sports—is the United States’ Third-Most Successful Sport in the Olympics Summer Games

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vote this week to eliminate wrestling from the Olympic Games, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Al Franken (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), and James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced a Senate resolution to oppose and urge the IOC to reverse the decision. U.S. Reps. Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Jim Jordan (OH-04) and Tim Walz (MN-01) introduced a companion resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives today.

“Wrestling is a historical heavyweight among Olympic sports, and has a proud tradition in my state of Ohio,” Brown said. “From youth wrestling camps and high school meets to NCAA tournaments—athletes in Ohio have learned the strength, discipline, and focus that allow grapplers to succeed both on the mat and in life. This sport is accessible to everyone around the world, regardless of their financial circumstances. The IOC should not ratify this preliminary decision by its executive board.”

“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 said.  “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.”

“As a fan of the Olympics, I think it’s just plain wrong to exclude wrestling - and all of its Olympic tradition - from the Summer games,” said Sen. Franken. “As someone who grew up in Minnesota – where I wrestled in high school, where we've hosted the U.S. Olympic wrestling trials, and where the University of Minnesota is in contention for the national title almost every year – I can’t express how deeply disappointing this decision is.  I believe the IOC should reverse its decision and restore wrestling to its rightful place in the Olympic games.”

“Wrestling has a long and proud tradition in Pennsylvania and in the Olympics,” Casey said. “I’m hopeful the International Olympic Committee will reverse course and bring back this event to the 2020 games.”

“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,” said Senator Harkin.  “A sport with a history as rich as wrestling deserves a place in the Olympics, so I am hopeful that the International Olympic Committee will reverse course and include the sport in the 2020 games.”

Wrestling is one of the original sports in the ancient Olympic Games in Greece and was also included in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. The U.S. Olympic wrestling teams—including freestyle and Greco-Roman—are our nation’s third-most successful Summer Games sport, amassing more than 120 medals.

The IOC Executive Board’s vote announced on Tuesday is a preliminary recommendation. The final decision will be made in September 2013 when the entire IOC votes on the final program.

Full text of the resolution is below.

Opposing the International Olympic Committee’s decision to eliminate wrestling from the

Summer Olympic Games beginning in 2020.


Whereas wrestling is recognized as one of the world’s oldest competitive sports dating back to 3000 BC;


Whereas wrestling was one of the original sports of the ancient Greek Olympic Games and of the first modern Olympic Games;


Whereas wrestling is one of the world’s most diverse sports, with participants from almost 200 countries around the world;


Whereas over 280,000 high school students in the United States participated in wrestling in 2012;


Whereas there are over 300 intercollegiate wrestling programs in the United States;


Whereas wrestling represents the determination and hard work it takes to succeed in life and sport;


Whereas the United States has a long, proud, and storied Olympic wrestling history; and


Whereas wrestling epitomizes the spirit of the Olympic Games: Now, therefore, be it


Resolved, That the Senate—


(1) opposes the recommendation of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board to eliminate wrestling from the Summer Olympic Games beginning in 2020;


(2) thanks the United States Olympic Committee for its continued support of wrestling and encourages them to work actively to reverse this decision; and


(3) urges the International Olympic Committee to reinstate wrestling as a core sport of the Summer Olympic Games.


Press Contact

(Brown): 202-224-3978

(Grassley): 202-224-6522

(Franken): 202-224-4645

(Casey) 202-228-6367

(Harkin) 202-224-3254