Iran’s sports czar denies its athletes will stop boycotting Israelis
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Iran’s sports czar denies its athletes will stop boycotting Israelis

Statement comes ahead of Judo world championship; world federation said in May that Tehran agreed to adopt ‘non-discrimination principle’

Uzbekistan's Bekmurod Oltiboev, in white, competes against Iran's Javad Mahjoub during their men's +100 kg judo bronze medal match at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, August 31, 2018. (AP/Dita Alangkara)
Uzbekistan's Bekmurod Oltiboev, in white, competes against Iran's Javad Mahjoub during their men's +100 kg judo bronze medal match at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, August 31, 2018. (AP/Dita Alangkara)

Iranian athletes will not compete against Israeli athletes in international competition, the head of Iran’s national Olympic committee said.

The statement comes ahead of the Judo World Championships in August. In May, the International Judo Federation said it had reached an agreement with Iran to end its athletes’ boycott of Israelis in competitions.

Under the agreement, Iran’s National Olympic Committee said it would “fully respect the Olympic Charter and its non-discrimination principle,” though it did not mention Israel by name. Iranian judokas have forfeited matches against Israelis for decades.

Despite the agreement, Syed Reza Salehi Amiri told the Fars News Agency that he told International Judo Federation chairman Marius Vizer that his athletes would not compete with Israeli athletes.

Israel’s Sagi Muki celebrates after defeating Belgium’s Sami Chouchi to win gold in the men’s under 81 kg weight category during the European Judo Championship in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on April 27, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

In July 2018, the federation canceled two international tournaments, the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and the Tunis Grand Prix, “until governmental guarantee is given to ensure free and equal participation of all nations at the said events.”

The UAE event in the capital of Abu Dhabi was reinstated. During that competition, Iranian Saeid Mollaei, who currently ranks No. 1 in his weight group, faked an injury to avoid having to fight Israeli Sagi Muki, who is ranked No. 2. They could face each other at the World Championship.

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