A top sports court has overturned an IJF decision to suspend Iran, failing to penalise Iran’s anti-Israel behaviour.
In 2019, the International Judo Federation (IJF) indefinitely suspended Iran from competitions it ran as a punishment for Iran’s repeated offences against IJF rules. Iran forced its judoka to avoid facing Israeli opponents, even threatening family members in order to force their athletes to comply.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday overturned the IJF’s decision. CAS said its judges decided upon hearing the Iranian judo federation’s appeal decided that the IJF overstepped its authority with such a severe ban, which was imposed in October 2019. The case was sent back to an IJF disciplinary panel for review.
The court acknowledged that the Iranian judo federation had “committed severe violations of the IJF rules” on discrimination and should be punished, though within the world governing body’s rules.
The original decision to suspend Iran came after Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei was forced by Iranian officials to throw a match in order to avoid facing an Israeli opponent. Mollaei did not want to do this, so Iranian officials threatened to harm his family if he did not comply. Mollaei did as he was told but instead of returning to Iran, where he feared for his safety, he instead fled to Germany and gained asylum there.
You can see more about Saeid Mollaei’s story in the video below, but what was a bad situation has turned to good for him. While he was forced to boycott Israel while competing for Iran. This year he travelled to Israel and competed in a tournament there to show that love wins against hate.
The decision has clearly been celebrated by Iranian officials, but this is truly a slap in the face for those standing up to discrimination in sport.
The Iranian regime has in recent months executed a number of athletes who opposed the regime, notably two wrestlers and a boxer who were all hanged for the crime of speaking out against Iranian tyranny. There are now calls for Iran to be barred from competing in the Olympics.