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Politics

IranWire Exclusive: Iran Prevents National Skating Team From Competing At Argentina Tournament

October 29, 2022
Payam Younesipour,  
Akhtar Safi
2 min read
Climber Elnaz Rekabi is considered a national hero by many Iranians since she competed in South Korea without a headscarf.
Climber Elnaz Rekabi is considered a national hero by many Iranians since she competed in South Korea without a headscarf.

The Iranian authorities have not allowed the national skating team to participate in an international tournament in Argentina over concerns that the athletes may compete without hijab or express support for the wave of protests in Iran, IranWire reports.

Twelve Iranian male and female skaters were expected to participate in the competition starting on October 29.

But a source in Iran’s skating federation said that they will miss the competition.

"We were told that there are concerns about a repeat of what happened to Elnaz Rekabi, but they forced us to tell members of the national team there was a problem with the invitation.”

Rekabi, 33, made headlines on October 16 after she competed at the International Federation of Sport Climbing’s Asia Championship in Seoul without her state-mandated headscarf. She has publicly said she had forgotten to put on her headscarf.

The controversy came amid nationwide unrest in Iran sparked by the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police. The burst of popular anger has remained unabated despite a brutal crackdown by security forces that has claimed more than 250 lives.

The Iranian authorities are also concerned that an Iranian athlete competing abroad could hold a photo of Amini or a placard in support of the demonstrations.

IranWire understands that until further notice, athletes, especially women, will either not be allowed to travel abroad to compete in international competitions, or they will be required to hand over a cheque to the Ministry of Sports to guarantee they will come back home.

Mohsen Hanarjo, the manager of Iran's national skating teams, claimed in an interview with Iranian media on October 26 that the national skating federation did not have enough time to get visas from the Argentinian embassy “because the invitations were sent late."

However, the source told IranWire in a voice note: "It's been two weeks since everything has been finalized about the departure of the team to Argentina.”

"But last week, a confidential letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic arrived at the federation, emphasizing that none of the players in the national team has the right to participate in these competitions.”

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