The campaign organization United for Navid – named after the executed champion Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari – sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee on Friday, urging it to investigate the Iranian regime’s abuse of athletes.
“We are calling on you and the IOC leadership to immediately investigate the countless cases of athlete abuse occurring in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” wrote United for Navid in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Jerusalem Post.
"In accordance with Article 27 (2.5) of the Olympic Charter, National Olympic Committees must act against any form of discrimination and violence in sport," wrote the letter's Iranian athlete and human rights activist authors."Based on the attached information of athlete abuse in Iran, it is abundantly clear that these abuses are occurring regularly. Many athletes have been murdered, tortured, beaten, arrested and denied access to competition and sport. As you can appreciate, these cases (of which there are more) are extremely sensitive," they wrote.
Rob Koehler, Director General of Global Athlete, a sports advocacy organization for the rights of athletes, told the Post that “it is inconceivable that the IOC has yet to open an investigation on the abuse of athletes occurring in Iran. "Once again, athletes are forced to take the lead and spoon feed information to the IOC," he said. "It has been over six months since Iran executed Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari and the IOC continues to remain silent as more athletes continue to come forward on the inhumane conditions they face.”
“Athletes are afraid to speak up due to the real fear of retribution," Koehler said. "The IOC needs to set up a safe reporting system to protect these athletes – and this information cannot be turned over to the Iran Olympic Committee, as athletes and their families will pay the price for reporting."It is time for the IOC to place principle over politics and provisionally suspend the Iran IOC while it conducts an independent and thorough investigation.”
Alex Capstick, a BBC Sports News reporter, asked IOC spokesman Mark D. Adams on Monday if its Executive Board meeting discussed the United for Navid letter. Adams said it was not, but the IOC will respond to the letter.
United for Navid addressed its letter to Thomas Bach, the German president of the IOC, who has faced intense criticism from human rights advocates and sports groups for failing to sanction Iran’s regime for its execution of Afkari.
In its appeal to Bach and the IOC, United for Navid wrote that, “to date, the Iran National Olympic Committee, as the ultimate authority for oversight of sport in Iran, has failed to protect athletes and their well-being; instead, [it] remains silent and complicit. We are calling on you and the IOC leadership to immediately investigate the countless cases of athlete abuse occurring in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
“Under Article 27 (2.5 & 9), we are calling on you to immediately suspend the Iran National Olympic Committee, including finances, until athletes’ rights are protected," the campaign added. "The IOC must show solidarity with the athletes and people of Iran, and not remain indifferent to the actions of the Iran... committee, which are associated with discrimination and violence.”