Wrestling is proving a strong-armed mediator for political enemies like Iran and the US, with American and Iranian officials denouncing the International Olympic Committee's recent decision to remove wrestling from the event's core sport category, according to The Washington Post.
The controversial IOC move relegated wrestling to bidding for a spot in the ancient Games, effectively demoting a sport the Post noted was "as old as the Olympics themselves."
US freestyle wrestling coach Zeke Jones said the issue is bringing the two countries together, according Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency as cited by Prensa Latina.
Jones described wrestling as an important “ambassador” that has “brought closer the people of Iran and the US," reported the Post, citing Mehr.
Mitch Hull, USA national teams director told AP television in Tehran that the US will be "standing arm-in-arm with Iran" on the issue, later adding, "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 said, according to the Post.
“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,” he added.