Khamenei confirms rejection of any meeting between Iranian and Israeli athletes

TEHRAN: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressed, Saturday, the need for Iranian athletes to refrain from facing any competitor from Israel, the archenemy of the Islamic Republic, stressing support for every athlete who does so, regardless of their nationality.

Khamenei said that “the murderous and illegal Zionist entity is trying, through participation in the international sports arenas, to obtain legitimacy for itself, and the world’s arrogant people and their followers support and support it,” according to statements published on his website.

“No free athlete is satisfied with recognizing a representative of the Zionist entity and shaking hands with him for a medal,” the guide added, while receiving medal-winning Iranian athletes during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which were held in Tokyo this summer.

Iranian athletes won seven medals, three of them gold, in the Olympic Games, and 24 medals (12 gold) in the Paralympic Games.

Many Iranian athletes have previously refrained from confronting Israelis, either by withdrawing or through medical certificates stating that they were injured.

As before, Arab and Muslim players withdraw not to face Israeli counterparts, the last of them Algerian judoka Fathi Norine At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which were held in July and August 2021.

He was scheduled to face Noreen Al-Sudani, Mohamed Abdel-Rasoul, in his first match in the 64th round for the 73kg category, with the possibility that he would meet in the round of 32 the Israeli Tohar Botbul.

But Noreen announced his withdrawal four days before the match because “the Palestinian cause is greater than these matters, and this is an irreversible decision.”

As in many cases of withdrawal for similar reasons, the International Judo Federation suspended Noreen, considering that what he had done “completely contradicts the philosophy of the Federation (…)” which has “a strict policy of non-discrimination, and the promotion of solidarity as a basic principle, reinforced by the values ​​of judo.”

In his speech on Saturday, Khamenei said, “The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran must defend the rights of Iranian and non-Iranian athletes as well, who have been denied due to their refusal to compete with the representative of the Zionist entity,” mentioning the issue of the “Algerian player” without directly naming him.

In October 2019, the International Judo Federation banned Iran from international competitions because of what it considered the refusal of its authorities to allow its players to face their Israeli counterparts, especially the case of the 2018 world champion in the under-81 kg weight, Saeed Mollaei.

The International Judo Federation said Mollaei was pressured by his country’s authorities to deliberately lose at the 2019 World Championships, to ensure that he would not compete with an Israeli competitor, Sagi Muki.

Mollaei left Iran that yearHe initially participated with the refugee team before obtaining Mongolian citizenship and returning to international competitions, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

On March 1, the Court of Arbitration for Sport announced the abolition of the final ban imposed on Iran by the International Federation. However, the latter returned and punished Iran with a four-year ban that will last until 2023.


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