Iranian weightlifter Mustafa Rajaei was banned from participating in any sports event after he shook the hand of his Israeli competitor, Maksim Svirsky, at a World Masters championship in Poland, Iran’s Weightlifting Federation announced on Wednesday.
Iranian weightlifter banned for life after taking a photo with an Israeli athlete. Despite such repercussions, this is the message Iranian athletes wish to convey to the world: the totalitarian Islamic regime and its policies of hatred do not represent us, the people of Iran.… pic.twitter.com/jOWH0z1KJ7
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) August 30, 2023
“The Weightlifting Federation strongly condemns the action of the veteran weightlifter of the Iranian team during the World Veteran Championship, which is against the ideals of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said the Federation.
The Federation additionally dissolved the committee for veteran weightlifters and dismissed Hamid Salehinia, the head of the Iranian delegation to the competition in Poland. “After further investigations, serious and decisive action will be taken against all the wrongdoers.”
“Undoubtedly, the fight against the usurping Zionist regime and its supporters is one of the main pillars of the strategic policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and in this regard, the Weightlifting Federation fully follows the ideals of Imam Rahel and the guidelines of the Supreme Leader of the [Islamic] Revolution who do not recognize the illegitimate regime of Israel, and it has placed it as an inviolable principle of the system to promote the fighting and Islamic spirit against the Zionists.”
A video shared by Iranian media showed Rajaei and Svirsky taking a photo together and shaking hands after getting off the podium at the competition.
‘It’s just stupid’
“I’m shocked,” Svirsky told Ynet after the competition. “The competition was good, and for me, I came back with a very nice achievement. I never imagined that my meeting with the Iranian on the podium would have such far-reaching consequences.”
“It’s just stupid. It’s a shame that politics is brought into sports,” added Svirsky. “What, I shouldn’t have gone up on the podium and shaken his hand? I think I was fine. This is the basic thing to do. I shook hands with the Austrian winner and also with Rajaei who came in second place.”
Iran’s sports boycott of Israel
Iran has a general policy of not allowing athletes to compete against Israeli competitors, although there have been exceptions made. The policy has sparked pressure from Israel and its supporters to ban Iran from competing in a variety of sports unless it allows its athletes to play against Israeli athletes.
Last year, Iranian wrestler Amir Yazdani was reportedly overfed by his superiors in order to disqualify him from a competition so that he would not compete with an Israeli.
In 2021, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told Iranian athletes that they had to continue boycotting Israeli athletes, even if they are disciplined by international sports organizations or give up the chance for a medal.
Additionally, in 2021, the International Judo Federation placed a four-year ban on Iran from judo competitions after Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei sought political asylum after refusing to withdraw from a match that could have led to him competing against Israeli judoka Sagi Muka.
In 2020, a draft bill by Iran’s parliament which included a list of anti-Israel measures also included a motion that would have made it formally illegal for Iranians to compete in any competition with Israeli citizens. The motion was later dropped amid concerns that it could lead to Iran being banned from international sports competitions.
Source » jpost