Members of the US freestyle wrestling team arrive at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran, February 19, 2013, to take part in the wrestling World Cup tournament.
The national teams director for USA wrestling says Iran is 'one of the strongest allies' of the US in wrestling, siding with the Islamic Republic in efforts to reverse a decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to exclude wrestling from the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
“We’ll be standing arm-in-arm with Iran, and we’ll be standing with Russia as we will with lots of other countries,” Mitch Hull said on Tuesday.
“Those [countries] really do make a difference because politically we’re not always on the same page, or politically with Russia, but in wrestling, there’s no doubt that we are all together in this effort and we consider Iran one of our strongest allies in the sport of wrestling.”
Hull arrived in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Tuesday along with the US wrestling team to take part in the wrestling World Cup tournament.
“We have great confidence that we can work with the Iranian wrestling federation, Iranian wrestlers and the Iranian people to show the world that, no matter what’s happening politically, we have the same goal and the same belief and passion about the sport of wrestling,” Hull added.
Meanwhile, US freestyle coach Zeke Jones said officials from ten of the world’s top wrestling nations - Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, the US, Russia and Turkey - will meet in Tehran on Wednesday to discuss how to reverse the IOC decision.
Jones said the World Cup in Tehran had come at a “perfect time” given the recent move by the IOC.
“You’ll have absolutely zero problem with the countries being unified on saving wrestling,” Jones said. “The countries will do anything in working together to keep Olympic wrestling in the program.”
Head of Iran’s Wrestling Federation Hojatollah Khatib has said that the tournament would offer the “best opportunity to confront the decision” to drop the sport from the Olympics.
“We should resist the decision, determinedly,” Khatib said.
The head of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA), Raphael Martinetti, has also resigned in protest at the IOC decision.
Wrestling, which combines freestyle and Greco-Roman events, was included in the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.