Iran Punished for Forcing Judokas to Avoid Israeli Athletes

October 23, 2019
3 min read
The International Judo Federation suspended Iran for “political interference in sports” and for refusing to allow “Iranian athletes to compete against Israeli athletes”
The International Judo Federation suspended Iran for “political interference in sports” and for refusing to allow “Iranian athletes to compete against Israeli athletes”

Iran’s judo athletes will be banned from competing in the Olympics, thanks to “political interference” on behalf of the Iranian authorities and their refusal to allow Iranian sportsmen to compete against Israelis. 

The International Judo Federation (IJF) made the announcement on October 22, stating that its Disciplinary Committee had upheld the temporary ruling to officially suspend the Iranian Judo Federation.

The original ruling, issued by the IJF’s Board of Directors on September 18, cited reasons of “political interference in sports” and “refusal of Iranian athletes to compete against Israeli athletes.”

The new IJF statement details the extensive investigation it conducted to verify whether the Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei was directly ordered to lose a match to avoid competing against an Israeli athlete. The investigations took place between September 10 and October 4.

Iran tried to defend its position, and accused Mollaei of making false claims in order to expedite his application to become a German citizen.

According to the IJF statement, the main arguments the Iranian Judo Federation offered in its defense are:

- Mr. Saeid Mollaei has never been instructed by the Iranian authorities and the Iran Judo Federation to withdraw from competing to avoid a potential contest against an Israeli athlete.

- All [Mollaei’s] declarations and statements are false and were made in order to speed up his change of nationality process.

- The current Iran Judo Federation president, Mr. Arash Mir Esmaili, was not president of the Iran Judo Federation when some actions referred to in one IJF report happened.

- The Iran Judo Federation was not informed regarding some allegations or statements about some cases reported.

- To conclude, it is to be emphasized that Iran Judo Federation shall fully comply with the principles of the IJF statutes and the Olympic Charter...


In its ruling, the IJF’s Disciplinary Committee states in no uncertain terms that, according to evidence, the Iranian Judo Federation is clearly in breach of IJF’s statutes.

“Furthermore,” continues the statement, “Mr. Saeid Mollaei’s allegations are confirmed by the statement of Mr. Abdullo Muradov [an IJF Executive Committee member], who speaks Farsi and who was together with the athlete during the World Championship in Tokyo and who clearly confirmed that the athlete received a phone call from the first deputy minister of sport of Iran and a video chat and a phone call from the Iran National Olympic Committee’s president asking the athlete not to fight in order to avoid a contest against the Israeli athlete.”

Iranian authorities’ claim that Saeid Mollaei lied in order to speed up his application to become a German citizen, but this has also been categorically rejected by the IJF’s Disciplinary Committee. This is based on the fact that, currently, not only has Mollaei not asked for asylum from Germany, he already had a German visa before the competitions got underway.

In the statement, the committee announced that the Iranian Judo Federation will be suspended from “all competitions, administrative and social activities organized or authorized by the IJF and its Unions, until the Iran Judo Federation gives strong guarantees and prove that they will respect the IJF Statutes and accept that their athletes fight against Israeli athletes.”

The statement also stipulates that the decision to suspend Iran “is subject to appeal with the Court of Arbitration For Sport. The time limit for appeal shall be 21 days from the receipt of the decision appealed against.”

With this decision from the IJF’s Disciplinary Committee, it now appears certain that Iranian judokas have no chance of competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


Related Coverage:

Iranian Judo Federation Suspended — And Now all Iranian Sports are at Risk, September 18, 2019

Iranian Judo Champion Forced to Avoid an Israeli Competitor Leaves, Settles in Germany, September 2, 2019

The Iranian Fugitive Boxer Who Said No to the “Israel Ban,” February 25, 2019

Will Iranian Wrestlers Compete against Israelis?, September 4, 2018

Guards: Don’t Compete with Israelis or We’ll Break Your Legs, March 6, 2018

The Islamic Republic Already Recognizes Israel, December 5, 2017

Wrestler Forced to Lose to Avoid Competing Israeli, November 2017

Chess Grandmaster's Brother Also Abandons Iran, October 2017

Iranian Footballers Make History by Defying Israel Ban, August 2017

The Fear of Competing Against Israel, February 24, 2017



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