Iran calls for judo ban for avoiding Israeli opponents

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) – The Iranian Judo Federation’s appeal against a four-year ban from international events for refusing to let its athletes face Israeli opponents was heard on Tuesday.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said the Iranian appeal against a decision by the International Judo Federation was conducted via video link. The verdict should take at least several weeks.

The IJF took action against Iran after former world champion Saeid Mollaei left the team, saying he was ordered to lose matches at the 2019 world championships to avoid facing Israelis .

Mollaei fled to Germany fearing for his safety in Iran and then gained approval from the International Olympic Committee to compete for Mongolia. He won a silver medal in the 81 kilogram category at the Tokyo Olympics in July.

The IJF initially imposed an indefinite ban on the Iranian federation until its discrimination policy was changed. This was overturned by the CAS and the case was referred to the governing body which decided on a four-year suspension in April.

The provisional ban, which could still be lifted if Iranian authorities allow their athletes to compete freely, is expected to run until September 2023.

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