Iranian official says its Olympic athletes won’t compete against Israelis

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Iranian official says its Olympic athletes won’t compete against Israelis

Iran’s National Olympic Committee initially said it would 'fully respect the Olympic Charter and its non-discrimination principle' before a statement u-turning this week

Israeli judo star Ori Sasson
Israeli judo star Ori Sasson

Iranian athletes will not compete against Israeli athletes in international competition, the head of Iran’s national Olympic committee said.

The statement comes ahead of the Judo World Championships in August. In May, the International Judo Federation said it had reached an agreement with Iran to end its athletes’ boycott of Israelis in competitions.

Under the agreement, Iran’s National Olympic Committee said it would “fully respect the Olympic Charter and its non-discrimination principle,” though it did not mention Israel by name. Iranian judokas have forfeited matches against Israelis for decades.

Despite the agreement, Syed Reza Salehi Amiri told the Fars News Agency that he told International Judo Federation chairman Marius Vizer that his athletes would not compete 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,” Amiri said, according to the Jerusalem Post.

In July 2018, the federation canceled two international tournaments, the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and the Tunis Grand Prix, “until governmental guarantee is given to ensure free and equal participation of all nations at the said events.”

The UAE event in the capital of Abu Dhabi was reinstated. During that competition, Iranian Saeid Mollaei, who currently ranks No. 1 in his weight group, faked an injury to avoid having to fight Israeli Sagi Muki, who is ranked No. 2. They could face each other in the World Championship.

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