Iran has been suspended from international judo competitions because of its policy of boycotting bouts with Israeli athletes.
Less than a month after Iranian athlete Saeid Mollaei walked off his national team in protest of the boycott policy, the International Judo Federation (IJF) said Wednesday that Iran was suspended ahead of a full hearing.
The Iranian judo star said he was afraid to return home after exposing and criticizing his government’s pressure on him to deliberately lose his semifinal bout in last month’s World Championships in Tokyo so as not to risk facing Israel’s Sagi Muki, the eventual winner, in the Tokyo final.
“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 authorized by International Judo Federation and its Unions,” the IJF said in a statement on its website.
“The Commission has a strong reason to believe that the Iran Judo Federation will continue or repeatedly engage in misconduct or commit any other offence against the legitimate interests, principles or objectives of the IJF,” the statement said.
Iran’s judo federation is accused of discriminating against Israeli athletes and breaking rules over manipulating competition results.
The suspension went into force immediately, and is subject to an appeal that can be filed by the Iranian federation within 21 days.
Iran does not recognize Israel as a country, and Iranian sports teams have for several decades had a policy of not competing against Israelis. Iranian passports remind holders in bold red they are “not entitled to travel to occupied Palestine.”