Tuesday , 3 August 2021

International Judo Body Suspends Iran For Anti-Israeli ‘Scheme’

RFL/RE – Judo’s governing body has suspended Iran as punishment for refusing to allow its athletes to compete against opponents from Israel.

The International Judo Federation (IJF) imposed a four-year ban on April 29 after the Court of Arbitration for Sport said a previous indefinite ban was not allowed.

The IJF disciplinary committee said the start of the suspension is backdated to September 18, 2019, and runs until September 17, 2023.

The case began when former world champion Saeid Mollaei left the Iranian team in August 2019, claiming he was ordered to throw matches rather than risk facing an Israeli opponent.

The IJF said the case was not an isolated event but a policy whereby Mollaei was ordered to lose before even getting to the point where he had to face an Israeli athlete.

It said the matter “clearly reveals an institutionalized scheme” involving Iran’s National Olympic Committee, the Ministry of Sports, and National Judo Federation.

The IJF “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,” the governing body said in a statement.

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

Iran was originally suspended in October 2019.

The IJF has said any action taken against Iran would not apply directly to the Tokyo Olympics, because athletes are technically entered by the Iranian Olympic Committee and not the national judo body.

Mollaei fled to Germany in 2019 and the International Olympic Committee last year approved his switch to compete for Mongolia.

The IOC said the change did not need permission from Iranian Olympic officials because he was technically a refugee.

With reporting by AP and dpa
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