Iran blasts ban from judo competitions

Iran's judo federation claims decision to ban it from international competitions was based on "false claims".

Elad Benari ,

Judo (illustration)
Judo (illustration)

Iran's judo federation on Wednesday blasted a newly imposed ban on its fighters taking part in international competitions, saying it was based on "false claims", AFP reported.

On Tuesday, the International Judo Federation (IJF) rejected Iran’s appeal of its ban from all competition over its boycott of Israeli athletes, saying the ban will be in effect “until the Iran Judo Federation gives strong guarantees and prove that they will respect the IJF Statutes and accept that their athletes fight against Israeli athletes”.

Last month, the IJF banned Iran from all competitions after the Islamic Republic forced judoka Saeid Mollaei to withdraw from the World Judo Championships in order to avoid competing against an Israeli.

The 27-year-old ignored those warnings and after losing in the semifinals of the competition -- a result he says was affected by the emotional stress caused by the Iran officials request -- travelled to Germany to begin the process of applying for asylum.

The Iranian federation's chief Arash Miresmaeili on Wednesday denounced the decision as a "cruel and a blatant betrayal".

"The international federation shouldn't have taken such a measure against judo in Iran merely based on a false claim by an athlete," he was quoted as saying.

The decision, continued Miresmaeili, would prevent teams of Iranian fighters from various age groups from being sent abroad.

Iran does not recognize Israel and its athletes usually refrain from facing Israeli opponents.

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 IJF and Iran reached an agreement in May which stipulates that Iran will no longer boycott competitions against Israelis.