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Iran pulls out of deaf sports championship to avoid Israel

Wataru Endo (C) of Japan in action against Saad Abdulemir (L) of Iraq during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifying group B football match between Iraq and Japan at Shahid Dastgerdi Stadium in Tehran, Iran on June 13, 2017 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]

The Iranian sports team has withdrawn from the upcoming fourth World Deaf Futsal Championships in Switzerland after being scheduled to play against Israel.

Iran’s National Deaf Futsal Team beat Japan 4-0 in Thailand earlier this year to qualify for the world championships where they were due to come up against Israel along with Argentina and Sweden.

Israel’s public broadcaster Kan reported that the Iranian sports team noted they will not participate in the tournament tomorrow unless they are moved to a different group.

Futsal is similar to football but is played in smaller teams made up of five players per side on a small indoor court.

Iran does not recognise Israel, and has no diplomatic relations as a result of Tel Aviv’s continued occupation of Palestinian land.

Israel and the Gulf: From secret relations to public normalisation

Last month, two Iranian chess champions refused to play against Israeli opponents in the 2019 World Youth and Junior Chess Championships.

The Iranian Judo Federation was also banned indefinitely last month by international sports authorities from all competitions over its boycott of Israeli athletes, despite it being one of Iran’s sporting strong points.

Iranian judoka fighter Saeid Mollaei, 27, defending his title at the Tokyo World Championships in August, said he was pressured by his country’s authorities into avoiding facing an Israeli in the final round of the -81kg class.

At the 2004 Athens Olympics, then Iranian world champion Arash Mirasmaeili refused to fight Israeli judoka Ehud Vaks, earning praise back home.

At Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby was sent home after refusing to shake the hand of Israeli Or Sasson after their bout.

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