Iran’s national judo team has been banned from all competitions by the International Judo Federation after an Iranian judoka was instructed to withdraw from the World Championships in Tokyo to avoid fighting an Israeli.
The decision, conveyed in writing on Tuesday following the country’s suspension after Saeid Mollaei was ordered to withdraw from the tournament to avoid having to compete against Sagi Muki from Israel on 28 August.
Disciplinary procedures were implemented last month, and on 18 September the Iran Judo Federation was issued with a “protective suspension”.
This week, Iran was banned outright after Mollaei said he was “instructed [to withdraw] by the Iran Judo Federation’s president, the Iran National Olympic Committee’s president and the Iran national coach”.
In an astonishing response, the Iranian team said Mollaei had lied, and that his declarations and statements “were false and were made in order to speed up his change of nationality process”.
However, fellow competitor Abdullo Muradov, who speaks Farsi, said he was with Mollaei in Tokyo when Mollaei “received a phone call from the First Deputy Minister of Sport of Iran and a video chat and a phone call from the Iran National Olympic Committee’s President asking the athlete not to fight in order to avoid a contest against the Israeli athlete”.
In a letter, later published on its website, the international body said Iran had failed to fully comply with the Olympic Charter and the IJF Statutes, which “rejects all forms of discrimination”. Iran now has 21 days to appeal.