The governments of the United States and Russia can sometimes be at odds.
Americans and Iranians rarely see eye to eye on anything.
But the possibility of wrestling losing its Olympic spot has given these three often-divergent nations a cause to rally around.
The IOC in February recommended that wrestling be dropped from the Olympic program starting in 2020. Wrestling now has to plead its case to the IOC to be included as a provisional sport in St. Petersburg, Russia on May 29.
The New York exhibition, known as “The Rumble on the Rails” and to be held at Grand Central Terminal, is designed to highlight the sport’s international appeal and popularity. The pre-meet news conference is even being held at the United Nations, and the meet will be televised live by the NBC Sports Network and Universal Sports — a rarity for a sport struggling for ways to make itself more viewer-friendly.
The Iranians, who will be competing in the U.S. for the first time in 10 years, will also compete against the Americans at an exhibition in Los Angeles on May 19.
“In this crisis, we all stick together. Wrestlers maybe can do, sometimes, what politicians cannot,” said Nenad Lalovic, the acting president of FILA, the sport’s governing body. “We love our sport, and we are united to save it.”
It’s been amazing to see how wrestling officials and athletes are fighting the IOC’s decision with such genuine heart. There’s anger, of course, but the arguments to include wresting in the 2020 Games emphasize the power of the sport to unify and inspire. It’ll be an uphill battle to change the IOC’s mind but the wrestlers of the world are clearly unafraid of the challenge.
- Posted:3 days ago