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Iran has pulled out of the Bout at the Ballpark, but USA Wrestling still plans to compete in men’s freestyle

by USA Wrestling

In a letter to USA Wrestling on Wednesday, the Iran Wrestling Federation has indicated that it had decided not to travel to the United States to compete against Team USA at the Bout at the Ballpark in Arlington, Texas on February 12.

The letter from Iran Wrestling Federation President Ali Reza Dabir cited the fact that six members of the proposed 35-person Iran delegation did not receive visas from the U.S. State Department.

While USA Wrestling, as the national governing body for wrestling in the United States, has no input on the decisions regarding the issuing of visas, it has regularly communicated directly with the Iranian Wrestling Federation about what it needed to do regarding the U.S. visa process.

Iran was scheduled to compete against the U.S. men’s freestyle team in a 10-bout dual meet, as well as compete in one highlighted match against a top U.S. star in Greco-Roman.

USA Wrestling has formally requested that the Iran Wrestling Federation reconsider its decision and send the delegation which has been approved to enter the United States for the competition. The USA and Iran would still be able to host a highly-competitive dual meet, which would benefit both national teams and provide wrestling fans worldwide with an exciting showcase of the sport.

Regardless of the response from Iran, USA Wrestling has every intention to bring its men’s freestyle national team to Arlington to compete. An alternate plan for the men’s freestyle portion of the Bout at the Ballpark if Iran does not change its mind is currently being put into place, with an international all-star team being created that would compete against the United States.

“USA Wrestling is greatly disappointed that Iran has decided not to compete against our team at the Bout at the Ballpark. As with the 16 previous times that Iran has competed in the United States since 1995, this event was organized for goodwill through sport, and as an opportunity for athletes from both nations to compete at the highest level. Iran received nearly all of their visas and could field a competitive team to wrestle against our athletes, but it was their decision not to participate. We have asked them to reconsider. It is our intention to provide a quality event for our partners at the Bout at the Ballpark and for the fans in Texas, showcasing our top athletes, perhaps in another format,” said Rich Bender, USA Wrestling Executive Director.

Information on changes in men’s freestyle competition will be published as soon as it is finalized.