US, Russia, Iran join hands to keep Olympic wrestling
Updated: 2013-05-15 15:39
UNITED NATIONS - The Iranian flag was standing side by side with the stars and stripes in a peaceful manner on Tuesday at UN Headquarters in New York although the two countries have no diplomatic relations.
Azerbaijan's Saman Tahmasebi (red) wrestles with Croatia's Nenad Zugaj during the Greco-Roman Wrestling 84kg bronze medal match at the Senior Wrestling European Championship in Tbilisi, March 24, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
Iranians and Americans are often at odds in international politics, but the possible exit of wrestling from the Olympic games brought them together in hope to save the Olympic wrestling.
The wrestling teams from the United States, Iran and Russia, three of the world's wrestling superpowers, came together in solidarity here to keep wrestling in the Olympics.
On Feb 12, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended wrestling to be left out of the Olympics in 2020. A final decision on the program of the 2020 Olympics will be made by the entire IOC in September.
Ever since, a worldwide effort has been launched by the International Wrestling Federation (FILA) and all of the 177 members which participated in wrestling to ensure that wresting will not be dropped from the Olympic program in 2020 and beyond.
One by one, diplomats from the Iranian and Russian UN Missions and a veteran American wrestle coach came to the podium here before the Iranian, American and Russian flags to speak in a bid to retain wrestling as an Olympic spot.
"Children around the globe go to the gym everyday in the hope one day to compete with the greatest (wrestlers) in the best stadia and arenas," said Evgeny Zagaynov, Russia's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations. "Depriving them of the hope and the dream is inconceivable. Lets keep the dream alive."
"We do, of course, want candidates to be considered in the 2020 Olympics, wrestling is unique and if the worst happens, the Olympics will never be the same," Zagaynov said, adding that Russia will continue to reach out to members of the IOC Executive Board before the final decision is made in September in order to save the sport game.
"We believe that together we can," he said.
For his part, Seyed Mehdi Hosseini Mattin, political counselor of the Iranian UN Mission, said, "Wrestling has been part of the modern Olympics since 1896 and should not be deleted from the program."
No US diplomats spoke at the ceremony.
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