Iran squad may have quit over Israel


The Iranian men’s wheelchair basketball team withdrew from the Paralympics over “dissatisfaction” with the schedule.

Some speculated that the Iranians, facing a possible semifinal match-up with Israel, pulled out  of the tournament to avoid that confrontation on Sunday. After Iran withdrew Saturday, the Israelis lost to Canada, 55-47, in the quarterfinals of the 2008 Games in Beijing.

The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation and the International Paralympic Committee  announced the withdrawal due to Iran’s “dissatisfaction with the draw proposed for the cross-over round and subsequent schedule.”

Iran’s quarterfinal against the United States originally was scheduled to be played at 11:15 a.m. local time after the Canada-Israel match at 9 a.m., but the starting times were switched.

“Each match should be done one after another,” Iran deputy chief of mission Iran Doust said. “But unfortunately, concerning our match they didn’t observe the order and that’s the reason (for pulling out).”

“This sudden change has made a lot of problem for us,” an anonymous member of the Iranian Paralympic delegation was quoted as saying on Al-Jazeera’s English Web site. “(Because of) the problems this causes for the delegation, this team decided not to participate in the game.”

The United States was awarded a win by forfeit in its game vs. Iran by a score of 20-0.

U.S. head coach Steve Wilson said, “I was just disappointed because we were excited to play with such a good team. I knew nothing about it and we just did everything we should do to be ready for the game. What can you do?”

In the Olympics last month, also in Beijing, Iranian swimmer Mohammad Alirezaei said he was ill and withdrew from his 100-meter breaststroke heat that included Israeli Tom Beeri.

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