Iran suspended by judo federation over ban on Israelis

International Judo Federation imposes four-year ban on Iran for refusing to let its athletes face opponents from Israel.

Elad Benari ,

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Iran was suspended on Thursday by judo’s world governing body as punishment for refusing to let its athletes face opponents from Israel, The Associated Press reported.

The International Judo Federation imposed the four-year ban on Iran after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ordered a disciplinary review last month which said a previous indefinite ban was not allowed.

The IJF ban — backdated to start in 2019 and run into September 2023 — is provisional and can be lifted if the Iranian judo federation respects its rules on discrimination and accepts to compete with Israel.

The IJF said it “continues to defend the fundamental human values and rights of all its members, with a special emphasis on the rights of athletes and reiterates its commitment to fight against any form of discrimination in the sport of judo,” according to AP.

Until the Iranian policy toward Israel changes, its judokas cannot compete at IJF events, including world championships, and officials cannot take part in the world governing body’s work.

The ban does not affect Iranian judokas going to the Tokyo Olympics because that team is sent by the national Olympic body and not the national judo federation.

The IJF ban was announced initially after Iran forced former world champion Saeid Mollaei to throw a match against Israelis, even though the IJF and Iran reached an agreement which stipulates that Iran will no longer boycott competitions against Israelis.

Mollaei later travelled to Germany to begin the process of applying for asylum. He was recognized as a refugee in Germany in November of 2019 and recently won a silver medal at the Tel Aviv Grand Slam, where he represented Mongolia.



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