The organization Global Athlete issued a scathing indictment of the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday for its refusal to act against Iran's regime in response to the execution of Iranian champion Greco-Roman wrestler Navid Afkari.
“The IOC’s failure to stand up for athletes’ human rights – their willingness to stand by while athletes are jailed, tortured and executed – is a gross abdication of duty," said two-time Olympian Noah Hoffman, a Global Athlete member."Navid was targeted because he was an athlete. Any semblance of due process or the rule of law was nothing more than a sham. And the IOC turned away, claiming that Navid is not their problem," he said. "In doing so, they have sent a message to all athletes that they do not have our backs; they don’t care what happens to us as long as the Games go on and the farce of global unity is preserved.”
Global Athlete, a sports advocacy organization that seeks to advance the rights of athletes, said the IOC has neglected its “duty to care for athletes by failing to take action against Iran."
The Global Athlete statement said that “over the past month, athletes and human rights leaders have campaigned for the international sport community to sanction Iran and other countries that have clearly breached the UN Declaration of Human Rights. "The IOC claims to use sport for peace but has failed to act when athletes’ lives have been taken or are at risk. Athletes, sporting leaders, government, sponsors and human rights experts cannot sit idle. We must collectively stand together to demand that human rights are imbedded into the Olympic charter," the statement continued.
“Abuse in sport is rampant and it must come to an end. Only when the IOC adopts a zero tolerance approach to athlete abuse and embeds human rights into the Olympic charter will they have met their most basic responsibility to care for their athletes.”
According to the Global Athlete’s website, it “is an international athlete-led movement that will inspire and lead positive change in world sport, and collectively address the balance of power between athletes and administrators. We aim to help athletes gain a more represented voice in world sport, recognizing that the neglection and suppression of the athlete voice has gone on for too long.”
Global Athlete responded to Wednesday’s IOC Executive Board meeting where the IOC President addressed press questions with regard to Afkari.
Thomas Bach, the German president of the IOC, has refused to impose sanctions on Iran’s regime for the execution of Afkari for the wrestler's participation in nationwide protests against regime corruption in 2018.
The regime is widely believed to have framed Afkari for the killing of a regime security official during the demonstrations. An eyewitness reported that Afkari was brutally tortured to confess to a crime he did not commit.
Bach talked about “the deplorable case of Navid Afkari” at the press conference and the measures he took from the beginning of the case. He said the IOC and United World Wrestling took “several actions at the time.” Bach said he wrote a letter to the supreme leader of Iran and the president of Iran “asking for mercy for Navid Afkari. You know that, unfortunately, all of these efforts did not lead to the result, I think, that all we wanted to see: mercy for Navid Afkari.”
Human rights and sports organizations across the globe have urged Bach to ban the Islamic Republic of Iran from the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. Critics say that Iranian athletes can participate in the Olympics but not the under flag of the Islamic Republic.
National Union for Democracy in Iran wrote in a letter to the IOC that there are precedents for banning the Iranian regime from the Olympics, citing the examples of it having prohibited the apartheid regime in South Africa and the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
When asked about NUFDI’s examples, the IOC refused to answer The Jerusalem Post's query.