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Judo governing body says Iran is ‘welcome back’ in September after 4-year ban

May 18, 2023 at 3:28 pm

Participants take part in a World Judo Competition []

The president of the International Judo Federation (IJF), the world governing body for the combat sport, has promised that Iran will be “welcome back” this September following a four-year suspension from the federation over the Iran Judo Federation’s (IRIJF) anti-Israel normalisation policy.

President Marius Vizer was quoted by insidethegames as saying: “The sanction for Iran will finish in September. They are welcome back.”

“I hope they do their best to respect the rules and do not repeat the past inconvenient incidents,” he added.

Vizer also said that “It was a hard decision [to impose the suspension] and we regret that this has affected the athletes and the judo community in Iran. It’s not their fault.”

READ: Algeria judoka suspended for refusing to face Israeli opponent

Iranian judokas will be open to participate again when the ban expires on 17 September as the ban was backdated to the start of 2019. The IRIJF was originally handed an “indefinite” ban after Saeid Mollaei was ordered to withdraw from the 2019 World Championships in Tokyo in order to avoid competing against an Israeli opponent.

Iran was given the four-year suspension in 2021 over “repeated and severe breaches” of the IJF’s statutes and the values of Olympism. An unsuccessful appeal was made to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) who ruled that the previous indefinite ban was not allowed but upheld the four-year suspension.

Mollaei fled to Germany in 2019 and at the end of that year became a citizen of Mongolia representing the country at the 2020 Olympics. He dedicated his silver medal to Mongolia and Israel. The ban did not affect Iranian judokas going to the Olympics as the team is sent by the national Olympic body and not the IRIJF.