U.S., Iran push to save Olympic wrestling

Feb. 22, 2013 at 3:35 PM

TEHRAN, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. wrestling officials said they are working with their counterparts in Iran to try to save the sport from being cut out of the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee announced this month it plans to drop wrestling from the 2020 Summer Games, leading USA Wrestling officials and sports official in Iran to work together to save the sport, the Voice of America reported Friday.

Rich Bender of USA Wrestling extended an invitation for Mohammad Aliabadi of the Iranian National Olympic Committee to visit New York May 16. Bender spoke to Iranian officials after the U.S. team arrived in Tehran last week for the World Championships.

Mitch Hull of the U.S. national wrestling team said the Olympic decision has made unlikely allies of the United States and Iran.

"Politically, we're not always on the same page with Iran, 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," he said.

"We have great confidence that we can work with the Iranian wrestling federation, the Iranian wrestlers and, really, 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 said.

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