IJF lifeline for asylum-seeker Iranian judo star Saeid Mollaei

IJF lifeline for asylum-seeker Iranian judo star Saeid Mollaei

The International Judo Federation has posted a video interview with an Iranian judoka who says he was pressured by Iranian authorities to withdraw from the World Championships in Tokyo to avoid the prospect of facing an Israeli opponent. "The Iranian first deputy minister of sport, Davar Zani, gave him the order to withdraw Mollaei from the competition to avoid a potential contest between Iran and Israel".

Ahead of his semifinal conflict with eventual champion Matthias Casse of Belgium, Mollaei says a 2d name got here from Iranian Olympic Committee president Reza Salehi Amiri, informing him that Iranian National Security had visited his guardian's area.

Mollaei was the defending champion and will have confronted Israeli athlete Sagi Muki within the closing. "Before the World Championships they told me not to fight against, maybe even not fight at all and they would threaten not me but my family".

Mollaei fled to Berlin where he was thought to be seeking asylum, but the 27-year-old Tehran native denied that claim later Sunday, adding he hoped to compete in International Olympic Committee colours next summer.

"A few minutes prior to the (quarterfinal) contest, the Iranian coach received a call from his country", the IJF said on its website.

The IJF will issue a statement on Monday, Vizer confirmed, insisting: "First of all we will do everything to support the athlete so he can continue his career and participate in the Olympic Games".

The same has been happening in global Olympic type wrestling matches and both Iranian players, coaches and worldwide sports officials have been putting pressure on the Islamic Republic to abandon its discriminatory policy violating basic principles of global sports. All I did right now was for my life, for a brand new life.

"I am a fighter".

Mollaei could compete under a different flag at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the IJF said Sunday. "It is our mission to protect our athletes - that's clear", Vizer told to French agency AFP. But that was not my fate: "I could not compete because of the law in my country, and because I was scared of consequences for my family and myself". Vizer will work at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ensure that Mollaei should start in the refugee team.

Vizer added that an emergency meeting would be convened to investigate whether Mollaei and his family had been the victim of political coercion or threats and subsequently to decide whether to punish the Iranian judo federation.

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