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How Iranian Motion To Ban Athletes Facing Isreal In International Competition Was Halted At Last Minutes

Just after a reported timely intervention of Iranian minister of Sport and Youth Affair, the bill that was passed yesterday by the Iranian parliament but the motion regarding a ban on facing Israeli athletes was removed from the final draft.

Had the motion been passed into law it would have marked a further escalation in the controversy over Iran’s stance on Israel within sport.

According to Radio Farda, a “double urgency” motion was approved on May 12 that would have officially banned Iranian athletes from competing against opponents from Israel.

The article reportedly read that “any competition or sporting event, whether formal or preparatory, between Iranian athletes and sports teams with Israeli opponents is prohibited”.

Iranian national federations would have been urged to take “appropriate measures to prevent the imposition of any international penalties and sanctions on Iranian athletes”.

The motion formed part of a wider bill against Israel, which was claimed to be in response to the country’s “hostile actions against regional and international peace and security”.

The Government in Tehran has continued to order Iranian athletes not to face Israelis at sports events, although this is not officially outlined in law.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has repeatedly praised athletes who have refused to face opponents from Israel.

Since its Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has refused to recognise Israel and has no ties with the country.

Iran was suspended last year by the International Judo Federation (IJF) after Iranian government was allegedly ordered Saeid Mollaei to lose at the World Championships in Tokyo in August, to ensure he did not face an Israeli in the under-81 kilograms class.

The former world champion alleged he had been instructed to withdraw from the competition by Iran Judo Federation head Arash Miresmaeili and the National Olympic Committee of the Islamic Republic of Iran (NOCIRI) President.

Mollaei has since defected from Iran, seeking refuge in Germany before being cleared to compete for Mongolia by the IJF.

Had the motion been passed into law, calls for sanctions on Iran would likely have increased, including the possible banning of the country from the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

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