A group of athletes and human-rights activists are asking the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to sanction Iran’s Olympic program because of the country’s repeated attempts to have its athletes avoid competing against Israelis.

In a letter sent to IOC president Thomas Bach this week, the head of the United for Navid campaign—formed last year to protest the controversial execution of 27-year-old Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari—listed more than half a dozen examples in the past 16 years of Iranian athletes who purposefully lost international competitions or withdrew from ones that would match them up against Israeli athletes.

An IOC spokesman said the sports organization “takes note of the letter and continues to evaluate the alleged issues,” The Associated Press reported.

On March 1, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned Iran’s suspension from international judo events in connection to a case involving Iranian judoka and world champion Saeid Mollaei. The athlete left his Iranian team in August 2019 after being forced to throw a match at the 2019 World Judo Championships in order to avoid facing an Israeli opponent in the finals.

Judges on that court decided the International Judo Federation overstepped its own authority by imposing such a severe ban, which was enforced in October 2019.


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