WASHINGTON -- The Republican governor of Iowa is campaigning to get his gubernatorial colleagues from around the country to join his effort to overturn the International Olympic Committee's decision to end wrestling as an Olympic sport.
Gov. Terry Branstad used part of Monday's closing session of the National Governors Association winter meeting here to urge governors to sign a letter to the IOC, calling for the body to reverse its decision. Earlier this month, Branstad launched a campaign to lobby the IOC to change the decision, which will end wrestling as an Olympic sport starting in 2020. Branstad has been joined in the campaign by Dan Gable, a former head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa who won an Olympic gold medal in wrestling in 1972.
"We'd love to have all the governors, or as many as possible, sign on," Branstad told his colleagues.
The IOC's preliminary decision to end wrestling as an Olympic sport has sparked opposition from members of Congress, particularly those from the Midwest. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Iowa's entire congressional delegation, has sponsored a resolution asking for the IOC to reverse the decision. Branstad and Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) have already sent letters to the IOC and have launched Let's Keep Wrestling, a campaign funded by Branstad's political funds.
When he launched the pro-wrestling campaign earlier this month, Branstad said the sport "is part of the fabric of Iowa."
Branstad could be overheard lobbying his colleagues individually to get them to sign on to the IOC letter. He told the full session that while it may be a long shot to get the IOC to change their minds, it was an effort worth gubernatorial involvement.
He also had choice words for the IOC: "I think it is crazy to see it eliminated."