November 19, 2019

Iran Banned from Judo Competition

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 28: Saeid Mollaei (white) of Iran reacts after his victory over Antoine Valois-Fortier of Canada in the Men's -81kg quarterfinal match on day four of the World Judo Championships at the Nippon Budokan on August 28, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

Iran has been banned from entering the world judo competition after the Iranian regime barred its athletes from facing off against Israeli athletes.

The International Judo Federation (IJF) announced in an Oct. 22 statement that the Iran Judo Federation will be suspended “from all competitions, administrative and social activities organized or authorized by the IJF and its Unions” until Iran allows its athletes to compete against Israelis. The IJF’s statement added that the “situation is a violation of the Olympic charter and the [International Olympic Committee] Code of Ethics.”

The IJF’s ruling comes in response to Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei claiming that in August, Iran forced him to withdraw from his match against Israeli judoka Sagi Muki. Mollaei, who fled to Berlin after withdrawing from the match, told Iran International on Sept. 1, “I love Iran very much, but winning a medal is the most important thing for me.”

The Iran Judo Federation denied the allegation, but the IJF found evidence corroborating Mollaei’s claim. Iran will have 21 days to appeal the decision.

American Jewish Committee Los Angeles Assistant Director Siamak Kordestani noted in a tweet that “Iran threatens its own athletes *and their families* when they even consider facing Israeli competitors.”

Additionally, Egyptian judoka Mohamed Abdelaal refused to shake Muki’s hand after the latter defeated him in the August semifinals. In 2016, an Egyptian judoka similarly refused to shake the hand of an Israeli judoka after a loss.