Iran banned from world judo over Israel boycott policy

Iran banned from world judo competitions over Israel boycott policy
2 min read
18 September, 2019
Iranian sports teams have for several decades had a policy of not competing against Israelis, which the country does not recognise.
Saeid Mollaei [L] was ordered to pull out of the world championships in Tokyo [Getty]

Iran has been suspended from international judo competitions over its boycott of Israeli athletes, the International Judo Federation (IJF) said on Wednesday.

The IJF's decision comes less than a month after world champion Saeid Mollaei walked off the Iranian team in protest at the boycott policy.

Iran's government reportedly ordered the athlete to withdraw from the World Judo Championships in Tokyo in order to avoid a possible match against an Israeli opponent.

Mollaei kept competing but eventually lost in the semi-finals and did not have to face an Israeli opponent. He says he is afraid to return home after disobeying orders from Tehran and is currently in Germany.

"Following what happened during the last World Judo Championships Tokyo 2019, the International Judo Federation pronounces against the Iran Judo Federation a protective suspension from all competitions, administrative and social activities organized or authorised by International Judo Federation and its Unions," the IJF said in a statement.

The international judo body accused Iran of discriminating against Israeli athletes and breaking rules over manipulating competition results.

Iranian sports teams have for several decades had a policy of not competing against Israelis, which the country does not recognise.

The IJF has said Iranians have thrown matches and used "questionable injuries" to avoid competing against Israelis.

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