Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is making a passionate appeal to the International Olympic Committee not to cut wrestling from the Olympic Games.
In a letter to the committee on Wednesday, Rumsfeld — himself a former wrestler — argued that to “abandon this great Olympic legacy would be a tragedy for the sport and for the proud tradition of the Olympic Games.”
“Olympic wrestling is unlike any other athletic activity,” Rumsfeld said. “As you know well, it is undoubtedly the oldest of contact sports, its lineage dating back to before the first ancient Olympic competition two and a half millennia ago.”
The committee announced this week that wrestling would not be included in the 2020 games.
“This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.
But Rumsfeld — who wrestled in high school from 1946 to 1950, in college from 1950 to 1954 and in the Navy from 1954 to 1957 — said that would be a mistake.
“There are wrestlers in nearly 200 nations,” he said. “Wrestling is a universal sport that anyone can participate in regardless of geography, weather, race, gender, or economic background.”
Added the former politician: “All that is needed is a flat surface, two competitors and a referee.”
“For ten years I wrestled for the love of the sport. Over the years I have been privileged to see firsthand the positive impact wrestling has had on my teammates, our opponents, as well as on me.”