An Iranian Judo world champion who is preparing to participate in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo was reportedly forced to intentionally lose a match to avoid having to fight an Israeli opponent, leading to a broader discussion about his future in the sport.
“Iranian judo star Saeid Mollaei, who claimed he was ordered to deliberately lose a world championship fight, could compete under a different flag at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the sport’s governing body said Sunday,” according to Radio Farda.
Mollaei was reportedly ordered by the Iranian regime to purposefully throw his semi-final match against Belgium’s Matthias Casse over the weekend to avoid a championship match against Israel’s Sagi Muki. Iran does not recognize Israel as a nation. It also does not allow its citizens to travel to what it calls “occupied Palestine.”
Now, the International Judo Federation (IJF) has openly stated its support for Mollaei.
“It is our mission to protect our athletes – that’s clear,” IJF president Marius Vizer said. “We will do our best that he will compete in the Olympic Games. Later we will see in which team – there are different options, but one of them will be applied for the Olympics.”
Vizer told Japan’s Asahi newspaper that he wanted Mollaei to fight under a refugee flag next summer in Tokyo, but Mollaei is reportedly hoping to compete under the International Olympic Committee (IOC) flag.
Mollaei holds a German visa, and recently traveled there amid rumors that he was seeking asylum. He quickly quashed those rumors, though, seemingly out of fear of retaliation from the Iranian regime.
“I’ve had a German visa and I’m in Germany to stay away from the rumors,” he said. “God forbid something would happen to my family. But I serve my country and whatever medal I get belongs to Iran, whether it’s under the Iran or IOC flag.”
He said he feels “sorry” that he might not be able to compete for the Iranian team, but that he did not train for the Olympics simply to be forced to lose.
Fortunately, the IJF is willing to work with Mollaei outside of the ring in the event that he is persecuted by the brutal Iranian regime for his decision.
“Vizer added that an emergency meeting would be convened to investigate whether Mollaei and his family had been the victim of political coercion or threats and subsequently to decide whether to punish the Iranian judo federation,” according to the Radio Farda report.
The Iranian regime is known for human rights violations, and the country is governed by strict Islamic law. Recently, female cyclists in the country were arrested for wearing cycling outfits instead of following the Islamic dress code. Iranian soldiers were recently caught using images of President Donald J. Trump and Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu for target practice.
Meanwhile, French president Emmanuel Macron has vowed to support Iran, undermining the United States and the sanctions placed on Iran after Trump ended the Obama administration’s disastrous Iran deal, in which Iran was given billions of dollars in cash in exchange for the illusory promise that the Middle Eastern nation would end its nuclear program.
Peter D'Abrosca is a freelance investigative reporter, author, and conservative political commentator.
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