Iranian Judoka Saeid Mollaei, who was ranked #1 in the world, has remained in Europe, afraid to return home after he admitted Teheran ordered his deliberate loss to keep him from being matched with the Israeli Judoka at the 2019 World Judo Championships in Tokyo.
By i24NEWS – AFP
The International Judo Federation (IJF) said Tuesday it had banned Iran from competition over the country’s refusal to face Israeli competitors.
The federation issued a provisional ban last month while investigating a report that Iran had ordered a judoka to lose deliberately at the world championships to avoid facing an Israeli competitor in the subsequent 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.
Iranian Judoka Saeid Mollaei, who confirmed that he was forced to throw a match in Tokyo on Wednesday, took to Instagram last month to praise the eventual gold-medal winner, Israeli star Sagi Muki.
Mollaei, who was ranked #1 in the world before his deliberate loss, has since fled his home country and is currently in Europe, although he denies he needs asylum.
“I could be the world champion. I trained hard, fought hard. I even dreamed of the championship title. But it wasn’t my fate: I couldn’t cope because of my family and my personal situation,” Mollaei told the official website of the IJF.
“Because of the National Olympic Committee of Iran, I had to abide by the law. I am a fighter. I want to fight where I can. I live in a country whose laws do not allow me to do so. We have no choice.”
“I need help. I can’t go back to Iran, I’m afraid. I’m worried about what might happen to my family and me,” he added.
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‘as a light unto the nations’