Iranian judoka who was forced to lose congratulates Israeli

Saeid Mollaei, who was forced to throw a match in order to avoid competing against Israel's Sagi Muki, congratulates Muki.

Elad Benari ,

Judo (illustration)
Judo (illustration)
iStock

An Iranian judoka who was coerced by Tehran to lose at the Judo World Championship last week congratulated his Israeli counterpart in a social media post on Monday, i24NEWS reports.

Saeid Mollaei, who confirmed that he was forced to throw a match in Tokyo last week, took to Instagram to praise the eventual gold-medal winner, Israel’s Sagi Muki.

"Congratulations champion," Mollaei wrote in response to a message Muki posted after the winning the competition.

"Thank you, you are inspiring as a person and as an athlete," Muki responded.

Mollaei had received a phone call from his mother in Iran instructing him to throw his match against Georgian Judoka Matthias Casse so that he would not have to face Muki in the semi-finals.

Mollaei reportedly sought asylum in Germany on Saturday following threats against him and his family, though he denied those reports and said, "I did not apply for asylum, I am not a refugee. I have had a visa in Germany for several years.”

He also denied that he had thrown his match or refused to compete and stressed that winning was important to him.

Mollaei is hardly the first Iranian to avoid an Israeli in a sports competition, as the Islamic Republic has a long-time policy in this regard.

In 2010, an Iranian contestant withdrew from a Taekwondo match against Israel’s Gili Haimovitz, who won a gold medal by default.

In 2012, Iranian athletes announced their intention to boycott competitions against Israelis at the London Olympics.

Two years ago, two Iranian players were criticized in their home country after they appeared for their Greek club Panionios in a Europa League qualifier against Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Iran forced Mollaei to throw a match even though the International Judo Federation and Iran reached an agreement in May which stipulates that Iran will no longer boycott competitions against Israelis.




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