Tuesday, September 14, 2010

(NEWS) No Change In Iran Over Sports-Boycott With Israel

"Tehran - An initiative for revising Iran's sports competition boycott with Israeli athletes has failed, apparently due to political pressure, Tehran press reported Monday.
Although the news on was reported on state-television, the office of sports chief Ali Saeidlou categorically denied to have sent a letter on the issue to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The denial by the sports organization, which acts under the supervision of the presidential office, is believed to be made due to political pressure and following harsh reactions to the initiative of Saeidlou who is close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iran's sports organization sought new guidelines how to proceed in competing with Israeli athletes at international events, the ISNA news agency reported earlier Monday.

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran does not acknowledge Israel as a sovereign state and even refrains to call it its name. The official term for Israel in Iran is 'Zionist regime.'
Due to the official stance in Tehran, Iranian athletes have thereafter not competed against Israelis at international competitions as a sign of solidarity with the Palestinians.

Iranian athletes have withdrawn for injury or other reasons ahead of scheduled events against athletes from Israel.

The state decision to boycott any international competition with Israel has in the last three decades deprived several Iranian athletes from either winning a medal or at least getting into the next round.

The latest incident came at the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore in August when Iranian Mohammad Soleimani did not show up for a taekwondo final against Israel's Gili Haimovitz, stating injury.

ISNA said that Saeidlou sent a letter to Khamenei, who has according to the constitution the final say on all state affairs, seeking new guidelines on how to proceed in this regard.
The main aim behind the initiative is believed to avoid a suspension of Iran from international competitions for politicising the games.

The boycotts also wasted long-term financial investments in the athletes, sports observers say.
But it was then reportedly made clear that there would be no change on the issue.
'Saeidlou made a grave mistake in sending the letter to the leadership and everybody involved in sports affairs should condemn his initiative,' said Behzad Katirani, a former official of the sports organization.

'Our stance is first respecting our (ideological) principles, think of all the (Palestinian) martyrs in the conflict with the criminal Zionist regime and then consider championships and medals,' Katirani added.

Former sports chief Mohammad-Ali Abadi said that everybody, including sports officials and athletes, should follow the country's basic principles and boycott any competition with Israeli athletes.

But the secretary of the Iranian Olympic committee believes that the issue should at least needed be brought to the attention of the country's leaders.

'Not acknowledging the Zionist regime (Israel) is a principal policy of Iran but still a solution should be found for getting out of this crisis and settle the problem somehow at international level,' the secretary of the Iranian Olympic committee, Bahram Afsharzadeh, told ISNA.

'If we face athletes from the Zionist regime at the Olympics and do not attend, then the International Olympic Committee might realize we did this intentionally (for political reasons),' he said.

The local Olympic committee head warned that future boycotts might have consequences for Iran such disqualification from international competitions." (source)

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