Saeid Mollaei
Saeid MollaeiReuters

Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei has requested political asylum in Germany after being forced to throw a match to avoid having to face an Israeli opponent.

Israeli judoka Sagi Muki made history Wednesday when he became the first Israeli to win the gold medal at the the Judo World Championship finals in Japan, defeating Belgian opponent Matthias Casse.

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.

Moallei, who has criticized his country's policy of refusing to compete against Israeli athletes, reportedly sought asylum in Germany on Saturday following threats against him and his family.

In his first interview since Wednesday's match, Moallei denied the reports that he had sought asylum. "I did not apply for asylum, I am not a refugee. I have had a visa in Germany for several years," he told the Iranian TV channel Iran International, which broadcasts from London.

Moallei denied that he had thrown his match or refused to compete and stressed that winning was important to him. "Iran put pressure on me to lose, but I didn't come to the competition to do a show, but to really compete."

"Winning the gold medal is something which is important to me," he added.

MK Yoel Razvozov (Blue and White), himself a former judoka, responded to the controversy by saying that he hoped Moallei's actions "can open the door for athletes forced to sacrifice their careers due to the whims of regimes hostile to Israel, and eventually cause them to change their policy towards Israel."