International Judo Federation Finalizes Iran’s Ban From All Competitions Following Refusal to Face Israeli Judokas

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Photo by TPS on 24 January, 2019

By Arye Green/TPS • 22 October, 2019

The International Judo Federation (IJF) on Wednesday announced that it has finalized its decision to suspend Iran over the Islamic Republic’s directive to its judoka Saeid Mollaei to withdraw from a recent competition to avoid a contest against Israel’s Sagi Muki.

During the 2019 World Championships in Tokyo in August, Mollaei lost to Belgian judoka Matthias Casse on purpose to avoid a faceoff with Muki. He was reportedly acting on direct orders from the Iranian authorities, which used his family as leverage.

Mollaei subsequently left for Berlin, where he has requested asylum.

The original decision was made by the IJF a month ago, followed by an appeal by the Iranian Judo Federation. The Iranians claimed that Mollaei has never been instructed by the Iranian authorities to withdraw from competing to avoid a potential contest against an Israeli athlete.

The Iranians also added they “shall fully comply with the principles of the IJF Statutes and the Olympic Charter.”

However, the IJF now noted that the Iranians had made such declarations before and neglected to keep their promises. Specifically, a letter sent by the Iranian Federation this past May said that that “the I.R. Iran NOC shall fully respect the Olympic Charter and its non-discrimination principle, and the I.R. Iran Federation shall fully comply with the Olympic Charter and the IJF Statutes.”

The IJF wrote in its decision that “the situation exposed by the athlete is in gross contradiction with the content of this letter.”

It has therefore decided to suspend the Iranian Judo Federation from all competitions, administrative and social activities organized or authorized by the IJF and its unions, until the Iran Judo Federation gives strong guarantees and proves that it will respect the IJF statutes and permit its athletes to compete against Israeli athletes.

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