International Judo Federation suspends Iran over its boycott of Israeli athletes


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The International Judo Federation has suspended Iran from competition over its boycott of Israeli athletes.

Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei was ordered at the 2019 World Judo Championships last month in Tokyo to throw several matches so that he would not have to face Israel’s Sagi Muki, who went on to win the gold medal.

Secreted out of Tokyo to Germany after the match, Mollaei confirmed that Iranian authorities and the Iran Judo Federation ordered him to withdraw from competing in such matches — something that has been suspected for decades.

Mollaei said he plans to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics under the Olympic flag on the so-called refugee team.

The international federation posted a statement Tuesday on its website announcing the Iran suspension effective the following day until “the final Commission decision regarding this case.” The statement said the boycotts of Israeli athletes “constitute a serious breach and gross violation” of the group’s statutes and principles.

In May, the International Judo Federation said it had reached an agreement with Iran to end its athletes’ boycott of Israelis in competitions.

Iran’s National Olympic Committee said then that it would “fully respect the Olympic Charter and its non-discrimination principle.”

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