Iran has been accused of using dirty tricks to force one of its wrestlers to boycott his Israeli competitor on Thursday in Belgrade.
Prominent British-Iranian analyst Potkin Azarmehr wrote on Twitter that “Iranian wrestler, Amir Yazdani was due to face an Israeli opponent at Wrestle Belgrade. If he refused, the Iran wrestling federation would have been banned as in judo competitions. Instead, they overfed him so he didn’t qualify at the weigh-in. Once again Iran managed to get out of a sticky situation.”
Iranian wrestler, #AmirYazdani was due to face an Israeli opponent at #WrestleBelgrade If he refused Iran wrestling federation would have been banned like Judo. Instead they overfed him so he didnt qualify at the weigh in. Once again Iran managed to get out of a sticky situation! pic.twitter.com/9NENBFvoSt— Potkin Azarmehr (@potkazar) September 15, 2022
Who is Iranian wrestler Amir Mohammad Yazdani?
Amir Mohammad Yazdani, the 70-kilogram wrestler of the Iranian national freestyle team, was slated to wrestle Israeli Josh Finesilver. Yazdani was considered the favorite to win the weight class at the world championships.
Sardar Pashaei, a former head of Iran’s national Greco-Roman wrestling, told The Jerusalem Post that “it is not the head coaches and athletes who make decisions, but the Iranian security officials who give orders and have the final word in this regard."
"These security officials are present at all sports competitions, including during all foreign travel. In sports camps, dormitories, or at international competitions, they repeat the red lines of the regime. They remind the athletes that they are never allowed to be friends or even shake hands with Israeli athletes. I don’t remember any international competition where the security agents didn’t make it unpleasant for us,” he said.
"It the head coaches and athletes who make decisions, but the Iranian security officials who give orders and have the final word in this regard."Sardar Pashaei
It's up to the Olympics
Pashaei added that “the International Olympic Committee and the World Wrestling Federation have turned a blind eye to this. They look the other way. Unless this ridiculous policy changes, Iranian athletes should be banned from attending international competition events.”
"The International Olympic Committee and the World Wrestling Federation have turned a blind eye to this. They look the other way. Unless this ridiculous policy changes, Iranian athletes should be banned from attending international competition events."Sardar Pashaei
Sources in Belgrade told the Post that Yazdani and the Iranian coaches “put on a theater performance” by making it seem the world-class wrestler sought to make weight.
Sports journalist Blaine Henry reported via The Fight Library that “while it’s not official and Iran is possibly doing this to avoid punishment by the IOC, state [Iran] media Press TV said it was purposefully done so Yazdani could avoid facing an Israeli opponent.”
Iran’s Amir Yazdani was pulled from his match with Israel’s Joshua Finesilver today. Controversy ensued. https://t.co/SNKIPYaMNN— Blaine Henry | Fight Library (@BlaineHenryTFL) September 15, 2022
Henry caught the state-controlled Press TV in contradiction. “Later, Press TV issued a retraction and stated that Amir Yazdani was pulled out due to missing [his] weight [class],” wrote Henry.
Henry said that “Iran has had a long-standing policy of not allowing their athletes to compete against Israeli athletes and has gotten them in trouble with the athletic federations in the past.”
German sports journalist Christoph Becker from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote that “the Israel-hate of the Islamic Republic of Iran dominates” in a play on words. He used the word Übergewicht, which can mean overweight or dominant.
Offiziell darf Amir Mohammad Jasdani bei der WM der Freistilringer nicht antreten, weil er zu schwer ist. Tatsächlich hat jedoch eine Doktrin der Machthaber aus Teheran den Kampf verhindert, schreibt @c_h_w_b. https://t.co/O0dpZQGy15— Frankfurter Allgemeine gesamt (@FAZ_NET) September 15, 2022
Israel’s wrestling team has two-star US-born wrestlers competing in Belgrade: Josh and his brother Mitch Finesilver, a 74kg wrestler who nearly qualified for last year’s Olympics for Israel.
Both Mitch and Josh were born in Colorado and competed for Duke University where they achieved enormous success as decorated student-athletes.