The Only Iranian Olympian With A Chance Of Facing An Israeli Has Withdrawn

iranIranian judo champion Javad Mahjoub

Photo: YouTube/grouls002

The only Iranian Olympian who would’ve potentially competed against an Israeli athlete has withdrawn because he needs 10-days of antibiotics to treat a “gut infection,” the Tehran Times reports. Iran has had a long-standing policy of not allowing its athletes to compete with Israeli opponents, but International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge recently said that athletes who refuse to face a competitor would be punished.

In 2011 the athlete, judo champion Javad Mahjoub, admitted to throwing a match against a German opponent to avoid competing against an Israeli. 

From The Washington Post: 

In a 2011 interview with the Iranian newspaper Shargh, Mahjoob [said] “If I won I would have had to compete with an Israeli athlete. And if I refused to compete with the Israeli, they would have suspended our Judo federation for four years.” 

NPR’s Tom Goldman points out that Iran snubbed Israel in the 2004 Games in Athens when the country’s gold-medal favourite in judo, Arash Miresmaeili, withdrew from a match against an Israeli.

The Post notes that on Monday Iran official Bahram Afsharzadeh told the AP that the country’s athletes would compete against Israelis, but Iranian Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Mohammad Abbasi also recently told the Islamic Republic News Agency that “not competing with Zionist athletes is one of the values and sources of pride of the Iranian people and its athletes.”

Iran has sent more than 50 athletes to the 2012 Olympics.

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