The International Judo Federation (IFJ) has suspended Iran's Judo federation in retaliation for the Saeid Mollaei controversy in late August, in which the athlete was forced to withdraw from competing in order to avoid facing an Israeli opponent on the mat.

"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 IFJ website announced on September 18. 

The news that Mollaei stepped down from the championships in order to avoid competing with Israeli judoka Sagi Muki was first reported on August 30 by the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun [Japanese link]. IJF President Marius Vizer told the paper that in the recent World Judo Championships in Tokyo, Mollaei purposely lost to Matthias Casse of Belgium in the semi-finals. Muki went on to win the competition on Wednesday August 28.

Mollaei later sought asylum in Germany, and Vizer said Mollaei feared he and his family would be in danger if he had progressed to face Muki in the under-81kg category, and that Mollaei asked the IJF for help. The IJF head also said he hopes Mollaei will compete in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo as a member of the Olympic Refugee Team.

The IFJ said the Iranian Judo Federation had promised to "fully comply with the Olympic Charter and the IFJ statues" in a letter in May 2019. However, the recent events were in direct contradiction to these principles, it said. 

 

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