Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has told Iranian athletes that they must continue to refrain from playing competitive sports against Israelis, even if they are sanctioned by international bodies for doing so.
âAny Iranian athlete worth his salt cannot shake the hand of a representative of the criminal regime to win a medal,â Khamenei said at a reception for Iranian medalists at the Tokyo Games on September 18.
âThe genocidal and illegal Zionist regime is trying to gain some legitimacy by appearing in international sports competitions. The arrogant powers of the world and their cohorts [the West] help and support them in this task, âhe added.
In Tokyo, Iran won seven Olympic medals, including three gold, as well as 24 Paralympic medals.
Iran does not recognize the State of Israel and its athletes often lose matches or do not participate when they could face an Israeli opponent.
In response, some international sports bodies have taken disciplinary action against Iranian sports for discriminatory conduct.
In one of the most important cases, the International Judo Federation (IJF) this year imposed a four-year ban on Iran from playing the sport because Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei left the Iranian team in August. 2019, claiming he was ordered to pitch matches rather than risk against an Israeli opponent.
Mollaei fled to Germany in 2019 and represented Mongolia at the Tokyo Olympics, winning a silver medal for his adopted country.
Khamenei also promised to support Iranian or Muslim athletes sanctioned by international bodies for boycotting sports competitions with the Israelis.
Khamenei instructed “the sports and foreign affairs ministries, as well as justice, to deploy their legal resources to support athletes from this country and other Muslim countries, such as the Algerian who was recently disciplined.”
He was referring to Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine, who withdrew from the Tokyo Games after the draw put him on the path to a possible match against an Israeli opponent. He was then suspended from international competition.
With AFP report