The Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei does not dare return to his homeland because of possible repressions. "I'm afraid of what might happen to my family and myself," said the 27-year-old athlete in a report published by the World Federation IJF. Background is therefore that Mollaei at the World Cup in Tokyo against a statement of the Iranian government on 28 August for the semi-final against the Belgian Matthias Casse had started.
Deputy Iranian sports minister Davar Zani had previously told Mollaei to withdraw from the World Cup, it was said. Because in the event of the final Mollaei would have to compete against the Israeli Sagi Muki, which should be prevented. Mollaei still fought against Casse, but lost the duel and was fifth in the World Cup.
Shortly before the semi-final, the judoka received another phone call from Reza Salehi Amiri, head of the National Olympic Committee of Iran. The sports official told him that security forces had been at his parents' house.
Sudden injuries as a boycott
"I was dreaming of the World Championship title today, but that was not my destiny," Mollaei said in the interview. "I could not fight because of the laws in my country and because I'm afraid of the consequences for my family and myself." IJF President Marius Vizer offered him support so he could race at the Olympics, Mollaei said, "so that my dream come true and I can become Olympic champion".
It was only in May that the Iran National Olympic Committee announced that it would fully respect the Olympic Charter and its prohibition of discrimination. There would be nothing in the way of competition between Iranian and Israeli athletes in the future.
For several decades, Iranian athletes have not opposed Israeli counterparts because Iran does not recognize Israel as a state. Also in the judo in the past there were always sudden injuries or other incidents, so that Iranians could boycott a duel with an Israeli.