An Iranian weightlifter has been given a lifetime ban by authorities in the Islamic Republic after shaking hands with an Israeli competitor at an event in Poland, AFP reported on Wednesday, citing state media.
Mostafa Rajaei, aged in his 40s, shook hands with Israeli weightlifter Maksim Svirsky on Saturday after they both stood on the podium at a World Masters championship in Wieliczka, Poland.
"The weightlifting federation bans athlete Mostafa Rajaei for life from entering all sports facilities in the country and dismisses the head of the delegation for the competition, Hamid Salehinia," the body announced in a statement cited by state news agency IRNA.
According to the IRNA report, Rajaei "crossed the red lines of the Islamic Republic" at the event where the Iranian delegation had been "sent with the support of the federation".
Rajaei is a former member of the Iranian national team and represented his country at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in 2015 in Thailand.
Iran, which does not have ties with Israel, regularly orders its athletes withdraw from sporting competitions in order to avoid facing Israelis.
In 2012, Iranian athletes announced their intention to boycott competitions against Israelis at the London Olympics.
In 2017, 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.
The two were initially banned for life from the Iranian national team as a punishment, but Iran appeared to cancel the ban after a huge outcry from soccer fans on social media and the launch of an investigation by FIFA, which has rules against political interference in national teams.
The most famous incident in recent years was that of Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei, who was forced to throw a match against Israelis, even after the International Judo Federation (IJF) and Iran reached an agreement which stipulates that Iran will no longer boycott competitions against Israelis.
In 2021, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged athletes "not to shake hands with a representative of the (Israeli) criminal regime to obtain a medal".