Published: Thu, September 05, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Iranian judoka pressured not to fight Israeli, refuses to return

Iranian judoka pressured not to fight Israeli, refuses to return

Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei, was under big pressure and was ordered to deliberately lose his semi-final and actually not even start the world championships. "First we will solve the situation of Mollaei, after we will deal case-by-case (of other Iranian athletes)", Vizer said on Twitter.

The same has been happening in global Olympic type wrestling matches and both Iranian players, coaches and worldwide sports officials have been putting pressure on the Islamic Republic to abandon its discriminatory policy violating basic principles of global sports.

"It's our mission to safeguard our athletes - that is clear", Vizer told AFP.

In 2004 Judo contestant Arash Miresmaeili threatened to quit the Olympics after nearly competing against an Israeli opponent.

The IJF said it would help Mollaei prepare for next year's Olympics, also in Tokyo.

"Today, the National Olympic Committee of Iran and the Sport Minister told me to not compete, that I had to comply with the law", Mollaei said in the IJF statement.

The IJF will announce on Monday, Vizer verified, but insisted: "First of all we'll do everything to encourage the athlete so that he could continue his profession and take part in the Olympic Games". "I've been training hard, making lots of efforts", stated Mollaei, who used to be reportedly in tears behind the scenes after listening to the decision. But that was not my fate: "I could not compete because of the law in my country, and because I was scared of consequences for my family and myself".

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Vizer added an emergency meeting could be convened this week to inquire if Mollaei along with his household, had been the victim of governmental coercion or risks and then to choose whether to punish the Iranian judo federation. Some countries have other rules that they could apply in their own countries, "but not in the case of an global sporting event", said Vizer. "We have to live with that and act accordingly".

Mollaei and Muki's possible battle within the World Judo Championships must had been an ancient alternative.

The Times of Israel reported that Fonti added: "From what we understand".

Among some of the more colourful online and social media fallout, it was claimed Vizer had booked a vehicle to whisk Mollaei from the world championship venue in Tokyo to the airport in a daring escape.

Iranian staff supervisor Majid Zareian additionally criticised the IJF, saying "everything was set in advance to put Mollaei against a participant from (Israel)".

And this could be an option for Mollaei, according to Vizer.

"There have been previous cases of Iranian athletes being advised to shed to prevent facing Israeli competitions, most especially wrestler Alireza Karimi, whose trainer was captured yelling" Alireza you have to shed, the Israeli won" at a movie which went viral in 2017.

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