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Iranian judoka who defected dedicates his silver medal to Israel

Gold medalist Japan's Takanori Nagase (white) and silver medalist Mongolia's Saeid Mollaei react after the judo men's -81kg gold medal bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)
Gold medalist Japan's Takanori Nagase (white) and silver medalist Mongolia's Saeid Mollaei react after the judo men's -81kg gold medal bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)

Saeid Mollaei, a former Iranian judoka now representing Mongolia, dedicates his silver medal in the final of the men’s 81-kilogram division to Israel.

“This medal is also dedicated to Israel and I hope the Israelis appreciate this achievement,” he says, according to Israel’s Kan broadcaster.

It was the first Olympic medal for Mollaei, two years after he left his native Iran after revealing that his national team coaches had ordered him to lose in the semifinals of the 2019 world championships in Tokyo to avoid facing Israel’s Sagi Muki in the final. Mollaei subsequently moved to Germany and then acquired Mongolian citizenship.

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