Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said it was time to end the “arts festival and the “Kumbaya session” that the modern Olympics has become and reinstate wrestling into the Games.
“Wrestling uniquely encapsulates the Olympic spirit, even though it harkens back to older and more martial virtues,” Rumseld wrote on Friday. “Few other sports are so directly aggressive: It is you vs. one other person. There is nothing to hide behind; there are no time-outs. It is all up to you.”
The International Olympic Committee announced it would exclude wrestling from the 2020 Olympics, and Rumsfeld, who was a wrestler for 10 years and failed to qualify for the Olympics, writes “wrestling’s Olympic legacy is unmatched” because “it is one of the oldest contact sports and was an important part of the first Olympic Games, which historians date to 776 BC.”
Wrestling, Rumseld notes, was in the first modern Olympics, in 1896, and the sport has only missed one Olympics since.
“Wrestling is a universal sport. To compete, all that is needed is an opponent and a flat surface,” Rumsfeld writes. “Anyone can participate, regardless of geography, weather, race, gender, culture or economic background. It doesn’t require a golf course, a swimming pool or a horse.”
Rumsfeld notes that is why “more countries have been represented on the winners’ podium for wrestling than for nearly any other sport.” He writes wrestling is “practiced in hundreds of countries and expressed through a multiplicity of cultures” and “has thrived through war, depression, social changes and globalization.”
“The sport develops self-reliance, discipline, perseverance and strategic thinking. But it also encourages civility, integrity and self-restraint,” Rumseld concludes. “These qualities certainly reflect the proud tradition of the Olympic Games, which is why I fervently hope the committee will reconsider its unfortunate decision.”