IOWA CITY — Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands said there’s muscle and money to garner support for his sport to regain its traditional slot in future Olympic Games.
Wrestling was dropped as a core sport by the IOC in February and now must lobby for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics on a provisional basis against seven other sports. Brands, a 1996 Olympic gold medalist for the United States, told members of Iowa’s Presidential Committee on Athletics “things seem to be going good and I am optimistic” about wrestling’s Olympic chances.
“We have a lobbying effort, and we will spend $10 million before it even comes to a vote,” Brands said Thursday. “When I say a lobbying effort, we have lobbying firms, we have firms that are very familiar with the International Olympic Committee. As you can imagine and what you’ve heard, there’s a lot of politics that are involved. We need to our job as a sport on the international level to put ourselves in position and in the light of where we represent ourselves that we are valuable to the Olympic movement.”
In late May, the IOC executive board meets in St. Petersburg, Russia. A final decision about the final sport and the site of the 2020 Olympic Games will be made in Buenos Aires, Argentina in September.
Brands said wrestling could land as either a core sport — which is unlikely — or on a temporary basis.
“Then maybe in 2024, they would revisit our status,” he said. “Either way is favorable because right now we’re not in there.”
Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta highlighted the Olympics’ importance to wrestling and its future.
“One of the things that’s made Iowa special in that regard is when we recruit student-athletes, we recruit them like we recruit a football player or basketball player that wants to achieve at the highest level,” Barta said. “That’s what Tom has done, that’s what Dan Gable did is recruit student-athletes that have aspirations to become world champions after they’re done at Iowa.
“That would be a significant discouragement in that sport, a loss in that sport we don’t want to see.”
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