Iran: We will not compete against Israeli athletes

"Refraining from participating in competitions with athletes of the Zionist regime is an issue of the Muslim world, and athletes from 20 countries refrain from doing so."

By ALON EINHORN
July 7, 2019 11:46
2 minute read.
Sagi Muki

Israeli judoka Sagi Muki. (photo credit: ASAF KLIGER)

 
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President of the Iran National Olympic Committee Syed Reza Salehi Amiri said that Iranian athletes will not compete against Israeli athletes, despite Iran claiming in a letter addressed to the International Judo Federation (IJF) that things might change.

The Judo World Championship will take place at the end of August, where the most anticipated encounter will be between Iranian Saeid Mollaei, who is ranked No. 1 in the 81 kg. weight group, and second ranked Israeli Sagi Muki.

At the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in October, the Iranian Judoka faked an injury to purposely lose a fight that would have led directly to an encounter with Muki. The Israeli went on to win the gold medal.

Then, at the Paris Grand Slam in February, Mollaei again feigned an injury and lost to Kazakhstan’s Ruslan Mussayev, ranked 209th in the world, in just twenty seconds. Mollaei seemed to easily recover from his injury to win the bronze medal.

The problem was that Muki won the silver medal, so Mollaei once again had to rely on that same injury to avoid sharing the podium with the Israeli athlete.

The IJF said in a letter to Iran that: "The international judo community witnessed several times a disturbing phenomenon, which involves the sudden “injury” or failure of weigh-in of Iranian athletes... [because of] the possible obligation of the given athletes to compete against certain countries."

In the same letter, the federation set a March 15 deadline for the Iranian government to present to "The International Judo Federation... a governmental letter which guarantees that all athletes from Iran will compete in IJF competitions, regardless of the nationality of the athletes they oppose, and that they will participate in the medal ceremonies, regardless of the nationality of those who share the podium with them."

The Iranian response to the letter was published by the IJF in March 11, where it claimed that it would, "fully respect the Olympic Charter and its non-discrimination principle." The Islamic republic also said that they were negotiating with parliament to "identify the proper legal resolutions."

In an interview with Fars News Agency, Amiri claimed to have discussed the matter with IJF chairman Marius Vizer in Lausanne, Switzerland, with Amiri explaining that Iranians will not be competing with Israeli athletes.

"Refraining from participating in competitions with athletes of the Zionist regime is an issue of the Muslim world, and athletes from 20 countries refrain from doing so. I said that we are acting within the framework of the Iranian regime's policy – and for this reason, we are not competing with athletes of the Zionist regime," Amiri said.

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