Judo fed­er­a­tion bans Iran over re­fusal to face Is­raelis

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

PARIS (AFP) — The In­ter­na­tional Judo Fed­er­a­tion (IJF) said Tues­day it had banned Iran from com­pe­ti­tion in­def­i­nitely over the coun­try’s re­fusal to al­low its fight­ers to face Is­raeli op­po­nents.

The fed­er­a­tion is­sued a pro­vi­sional ban last month while in­ves­ti­gat­ing a re­port that Iran had or­dered a ju­doka to lose at the world cham­pi­onships to avoid fac­ing an Is­raeli in the next round.

“Fol­low­ing the events, which oc­curred dur­ing the last World Judo Cham­pi­onships Tokyo 2019, the fi­nal sus­pen­sion of the Iran Judo Fed­er­a­tion from all com­pe­ti­tions… has been pro­nounced,” the IJF said in a state­ment.

The Is­raeli Judo As­so­ci­a­tion and its head Moshe Ponte praised the in­ter­na­tional body and its chief Mar­ius Vizer af­ter the de­ci­sion.

“Mar­ius Vizer is an amaz­ing man and a true friend of Is­raeli sport, and specif­i­cally Is­raeli judo,” a state­ment said.

“Sport is meant to con­nect peo­ple and not sep­a­rate them,” it added.

Ira­nian fighter Saeid Mol­laei, de­fend­ing his ti­tle at the Tokyo World Cham­pi­onships in

Au­gust, had said he was or­dered to throw his semi-fi­nal rather than risk fac­ing an Is­raeli in the fi­nal of the -81kg class.

The Ira­nian, 27, lost the semi-fi­nal and then went on to lose his third-place fight.

Mol­laei said he had been in­structed to with­draw from the com­pe­ti­tion by the pres­i­dents of the Iran Judo Fed­er­a­tion and the Iran Olympic com­mit­tee.

Re­ject­ing the charges, the Ira­nian fed­er­a­tion de­nied at­tempt­ing to force Mol­laei to with­draw from the cham­pi­onships.

How­ever the IJF dis­ci­plinary com­mis­sion ex­am­in­ing the case found that Iran’s ac­tions “con­sti­tute a se­ri­ous breach and gross vi­o­la­tion of the Statutes of the IJF, its le­git­i­mate interests, its prin­ci­ples and ob­jec­tives.”

The ban will last un­til “the Iran Judo Fed­er­a­tion give strong guar­an­tees and prove that they will re­spect the IJF Statutes and ac­cept that their ath­letes fight against Is­raeli ath­letes.”

Judo is one of Iran’s sport­ing strengths and the ban comes as a blow just nine months ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

Tehran is ex­pected to ap­peal to the Swiss-based Court for Ar­bi­tra­tion of Sport.

AP-Yon­hap

Saeid Mol­laei of Iran, top, com­petes against Di­dar Khamza of Kaza­khstan dur­ing their men’s –81kg fi­nal judo match at the18th Asian Games in Jakarta, In­done­sia, Aug. 30, 2018.

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