Once again, an Iranian judoka has pulled out of an international competition to avoid facing an Israeli athlete because of a controversial Iranian government policy.
Mohammad Abbas Nejad was set to face Israeli athlete Yarin Mnagid on March 30 in the 66 kilogram weight category at the Tbilisi 2018 Judo Grand Prix.
Although the policy’s objective is not to recognize Israel, Iranian athletes say the world does not understand this behavior because this is an undeclared policy which is not even popular inside IranTayebeh Siavashi, Iranian Member Of Parliament
It is an open secret in the sports world that Iranian athletes regularly feign injury and throw matches in order to avoid facing Israeli opponents in international competitions as they are forbidden to do so. But some athletes and coaches have begun speaking out against this policy.
Another Iranian judoka, Alireza Khojasteh, skipped the Olympics to avoid competing against Israeli opponents
Khojasteh then faced France’s Jean Daniel, who defeated Israel’s Mnagid and finally ranked fifth in the category, reported the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA).
Iran’s other representative in Tbilisi, Mohammad Mohammadi Barimanlou, had pulled out of the competition in Dusseldorf in 2017 in order not to face Israelis.
Abbas Nejad’s withdrawal from the competition was simultaneous with another development in which Iranian judoka Mohammad Rashnou Nejad, nicknamed “the Iranian judo phenomenon,” sought political asylum in the Netherlands.
In an interview with Radio Farda[FG1] , Rashnou Nejad talked about financial corruption in the Iranian Judo Federation.
He had to pull out of the adolescents’ judo competition in 2017 based on the Iranian policy that bans competition with Israeli athletes.
The policy has been widely criticized on social media, and in recent months an increasing number of Iranian athletes have voiced protest against the policy.
In February, the chairman of the Iranian Wrestling Federation, Rasoul Khadem, resigned and called 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 for the sake of keeping my position.”
Tayebeh Siavashi, a member of the Iranian Parliament, described the mass resignation as “shocking.”
“Although the policy’s objective is not to recognize Israel, Iranian athletes say the world does not understand this behavior because this is an undeclared policy which is not even popular inside Iran,” Ms. Siavashi tweeted. “Many wrestlers have said they could have won a medal [if they were allowed to compete with their Israeli peers],” she wrote in another tweet.
Meanwhile, Iranian military commanders have warned coaches and athletes to keep out of the ring of diplomacy after a handful of Iranian sportsmen criticized the Islamic Republic’s unwritten rule of forbidding athletes from competing against Israelis in international sports competitions.
“It is a non-negotiable principle that Iranian athletes must refrain from competition with Israelis,” said commander of the Baseej Resistance Force General Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar on March 19 in an interview with Mehr news agency.