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Iran Former Wrestling Chief Calls For Transparency On Issue Of Israeli Athletes


Iran- Head of wrestling federation and freestyle wrestling coach Rasoul Khadem- undated

The controversy over not allowing Iranian athletes to compete against Israelis continued as the former president of Iran’s Wrestling Federation Rasoul Khadem released a new statement telling Iranian politicians not to sacrifice the country’s national champions to further their own political agenda.

Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) on Saturday March 3 quoted Khadem as having accused Iranian officials of “lying” and “indifference to the status of Iran’s national champions.”

Khadem added that Iranian state officials treat Iranian athletes’ international presence and awards as part of some kind of entertainment for the people.

Khadem said upon his resignation “I cannot lie to the wrestling community in order to maintain my position.”

Khadem resigned his post as president of the Iranian Wrestling Federation on February 28 after calling on Iranian state officials to declare a clear policy about competing with Israeli athletes, and to stand firm by that policy.

Khadem said upon his resignation “I cannot lie to the wrestling community in order to maintain my position.”

One day later, scores of local wrestling officials also resigned in support of Khadem’s move.

Tayebeh Siavashi, a member of the Iranian Parliament (Majles) has described the mass resignation as “shocking.”

In another development Iranian athlete Mohammad Mohammadi Barimanlou withdrew from International Judo competitions in Germany to avoid confrontation with an Israeli athlete.

The withdrawal was despite the looming threat of suspending Iran from international wrestling competitions.

On February 23, The United World Wrestling Disciplinary Chamber (WWDC) banned Iranian wrestler Alireza Karimi from competitions for six months and his coach Alireza Jamshidi for two years.

Iranian athletes often feign injury or throw matches to avoid facing Israelis in competitions. Karimi’s case was one of the latest.

The WWDC has threatened that repeating this kind of behavior might lead to further consequences for Iranian athletes.

President Hassan Rouhani’s administration and Iran’s Supreme National Security Council have remained silent about Khadem’s resignation and his protest to the unwritten rule that prevents Iranian athletes from competing with Israelis.

Khadem has said in his new statement “Iranian political and military officials either do not understand the matter or pretend not to get the point.”

Khadem further told Iranian politicians that if they really believe in what they say about “the Zionist regime”, they should take up arms and move ahead of the national champions and not hide behind them.

Khadem further told Iranian politicians that if they really believe in what they say about “the Zionist regime”, they should take up arms and move ahead of the national champions and not hide behind them.

Khadem’s remark could be an answer to Baseej commander Gholamhossein Gheibparvar who has denounced Khadem’s views without naming him, saying, “The issue of Israel is not a matter of personal preference and should not be discussed openly.”

Khadem, a renowned wrestler and a gold medallist, called for diplomatic support for the athletes and told the officials “If we have to lose, come forward and let us lose together.”

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been preventing Iranian athletes from facing their Israeli counterparts since 1983 while there is no law or official justification for the policy.

‘A Shocking Development’

Meanwhile, MP Tayebeh Siavashi, a member of the Majles cultural committee has said in a post on her Twitter “Mass resignation of the country’s wrestling officials is a shocking development.”

Siavashi wrote: “Although the policy’s objective is not to recognize Israel, but Iranian athletes say the world does not understand this behavior because this is an undeclared policy which is not even popular inside Iran.”

Siavashi said in another Tweet “Many wrestlers have said that they always remember that they could have won the medal.”

Secretary of Iran’s Olympic Committee Shahrokh Shahnazi has said following the latest case of suspension of an Iranian athlete from international competition for refusing to face his Israeli counterpart: “We do not recognize Israel, and do not wish to be on the same platform with them.”

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