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|CPOW Weekly Update for April 1, 2013|
By Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling
SUMMARY: Senate passes legislation supporting Olympic wrestling… CPOW Spokesman Mike Novogratz issues call to action… NCAA heroes Kyle Dake and Jordan Oliver step up for Olympic wrestling… Billy Baldwin joins as a member of CPOW… Bulgarian president Rossen Plevneliev urges IOC to keep Olympic wrestling… Federal government of Nigeria supports Olympic wrestling… German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble comes out for wrestling… Bender heading to Panama for coalition building… Istanbul Olympic bid leader Suat Kilicm supports Olympic wrestling… Russian singlets say “Keep Olympic Wrestling”…
The Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW) will be issuing a weekly update on Mondays, informing the wrestling community and the general public on its activities.
CPOW is a group of wrestling leaders assembled by USA Wrestling. Its charge is to oversee the effort within the United States to Keep Wrestling In the Olympics, as part of a coordinated international strategy designed to retain wrestling in the Olympics.
Numerous projects are underway, both on the international level and the domestic front. Here are the key news items that developed in the last week.
United States News and Efforts
• The U.S. Senate passed legislation urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reverse its decision to eliminate wrestling from the Olympic Games beginning in 2020. The bipartisan resolution, introduced by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D OH), cleared the Senate late last week. The resolution was cosponsored by Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Al Franken (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), James Inhofe (R-OK), Carl Levin (D-MI), Lisa Murkowski(R-AK), and Roy Blunt (R-MO).“The call for wrestling to remain in the Olympics is growing increasingly louder,” Brown said. “With mounting support, I’m hopeful that the International Olympic Committee will reverse its decision to eliminate wrestling from the Olympics.
• CPOW Spokesman Mike Novogratz issued a public letter, updating the public on the efforts to Keep Olympic Wrestling, and calling on those who support wrestling to directly involved in the cause. “The global wrestling community has come together on a scale never seen before to keep wrestling in the Olympic Games. From every corner of the world, citizens, government officials, the media and wrestlers are raising their voices to make their opinion heard that wrestling is good for the Olympic movement,” wrote Novogratz. In addition to providing details on the achievements made by CPOW and FILA in recent weeks, Novogratz gave a specific call to action. “We are gaining momentum, but we cannot do it alone. We need the continued support, fund raising and help from the wrestling community now more than ever… We have already shown the passion and commitment, that is inherent in wrestlers to fight for what is right, but we also need to motivate others to join us. In other words, we have done well in the first period, but we have to finish out the match strong,” he wrote. Novogratz asked those who want to help to visit KeepOlympicWrestling.com
• Two of the top stars from the 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships, four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake of Cornell and two-time NCAA champion Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State are top Olympic hopefuls and have been very active in the national media supporting Olympic wrestling. In an Associated Press article, both said that the uncertainty about wrestling being in the Olympics in 2020 is putting additional importance on their bids for the 2016 Olympic Team. "We've got great people working on it, and they're going to take care of it. I'm confident we'll get it back. But in the meantime, we've got to propel our goals sooner. We've got to think 2016, and think that's it's our last shot," said Dake. Oliver expressed a similar viewpoint. "We've got to attack it like it's our last shot to win the Olympics. I don't think they'll hold wrestling out of the 2020 Olympics. It's something that's in the process, but I think we'll get it back. I think we just need to focus on attacking the 2016 Olympics," he said.
• Actor Billy Baldwin, a high school and college wrestler and a leader in the effort to Keep Olympic Wrestling, has been elected as the newest member of CPOW by its membership during their weekly meeting on Saturday. Baldwin has been an active spokesman for the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement, and will now have input within the leadership committee tasked with the U.S. effort. Baldwin is working closely with those in the national media and in the entertainment business to keep this issue in front of the general public.
International Relations News and Effort
• Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev became the latest of the many heads of government to come out in favor of wrestling in the Olympic Games. In a letter sent to the Bulgarian Wrestling Federation, Plevneliev wrote that “It should not be forgotten that wrestling is one of the oldest sports at the Games and has accumulated much authority and interest over the years… I categorically support all efforts towards keeping wrestling an Olympic sport and believe that such efforts will be successful.” Bulgaria ranks fifth all-time in the number of wrestling medals won at the Olympics. Bulgarian wrestling leaders have been active in their efforts to retain Olympic wrestling. Olympic champion and Bulgarian Wrestling Federation President Valentin Jordanov returned his 1996 Olympic gold to the IOC in protest, and Olympic champion and Bulgarian National Greco-Roman coach Armen Nazarian has gone on a hunger strike in protest.
• The Federal Government of Nigeria has formally come out in favor of wrestling as an Olympic sport and protested the IOC Executive Board recommendation that wrestling be eliminated from the Olympic Games in 2020. The position of the government was announced by the Director General of the National Sports Commission, Dr. Patrick Ekeji, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi. Ekeji said that "wrestling is a foundation sport in the Olympics and for us in Africa it is a traditional sport." A petition and protest letter was submitted to Nigeria's IOC representative Mr. Habu Gumel by the Nigerian Wrestling Federation. Gumel has pledged to present Nigeria's petition to the IOC general session scheduled for September, in Buenos Aires Argentina.
• Political leaders in Germany are also stepping up for wrestling German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has urged IOC member Thomas Bach of Germany to keep wrestling in the Olympic Games. Bach is head of the German Olympic sports asociation (DFOSB) and a possibility to be elected next September as new president of the IOC.”I would be very grateful if a way could be found to correct this wrong decision,” Schauble wrote in a letter to Bach. In another example of support for wrestling in Germany, the German Wrestling Federation has collected almost 60,000 signatures for a petition in favor of wrestling in the Olympics.
• USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender will continue his efforts for international coalition-building among wrestling federations by traveling this week to the Pan American Championships in Panama City, Panama, April 5-7. There, he will meet with leaders of CPLA, the Pan American Wrestling Association, and make a presentation on 2020 Vision, the marketing and public relations campaign launched by USA Wrestling to support the Keep Olympic Wrestling effort. Bender has also been to Iran and Georgia in recent weeks leading the effort to bring wrestling federations together behind the cause.
• Turkish Sports Minister Suat Kilicm, who also chairs the Istanbul bid for the 2020 Olympic Games, came out in support of Olympic wrestling when the IOC’s 2020 evaluation commission was in Turkey to review the Istanbul bid. “We want them to change their rules and revive this discipline. We want wrestling still to be part of the Games,” he said. Kilicm noted that wrestling is a very important sport in Turkey, as well as in Japan, which is also bidding on the 2020 Olympics with Tokyo as the candidate city. “For two of the 2020 Olympic candidate cities wrestling is very important as it was one of the first disciplines in the Olympic Games,” he said.
• The Russian wrestling federation made a strong statement during the 2013 European Wrestling Championships held in Tbilisi, Georgia. The singlets worn by Russian wrestlers in the competition said “Keep Olympic Wrestling” in English on the front.
We ask one thing from the wrestling community. Please stay informed and stay involved. You can do this by registering on www.KeepOlympicWrestling.com. We will give you weekly updates on the activities of CPOW and the international wrestling community so you can truly be a part of the solution.