Iranian judo agrees to end decades-long boycott of Israeli athletes

In an historic move, Iranian judo officials have agreed to stop boycotting Israeli athletes on the mat, ending a practice that had drawn criticism against Tehran in the sporting world.

In a letter to the International Judo Federation, Iran’s Olympic Committee and local Judo Federation agreed to “fully respect the Olympic Charter and its non-discrimination principle.”

In a statement, the IJF said the letter came after several rounds of talks regarding the “disturbing phenomenon, which involves the sudden ‘injury’ or failure of weigh-in of Iranian athletes,” which it said was related to Iran trying to avoid meeting athletes from certain countries.

Neither Iran nor the IJF specifically mentioned Israel, but Iranian athletes have on several occassions forfeited matches to avoid facing Israelis, who have become increasingly relevant in the sport on the world stage.

Iran’s sports policy is an outgrowth of the country’s official refusal to recognise Israel. Its leaders routinely encourage the demise of the Jewish state and the countries are considered arch foes.

Iran has had a long-time policy of avoiding Israelis in athletic competitions, frequently at the expense of its own competitors. An Iranian swimmer refused to enter the same pool as an Israeli at the Beijing Olympics and in the 2004 Athens Games, an Iranian judoka refused to face an Israeli, resulting in his disqualification.

Iranians athletes have increasingly found themselves caught between domestic officials, who may punish them for competing against Israelis, and international officials, who will punish them if they forfeit matches. In recent years, an increasing number of Iranian athletes and coaches have spoken out against the policy.

The last competition between Iranian and Israeli teams on the international level dates back to a wrestling match in 1983 in Kiev, Ukraine.

related

Subscribe to EJC newsletter

Get EJC's bi-weekly newsletter, including the latest statements and news from the European Jewish communities, direct to your inbox.

European Jewish Congress will use the information you provide on this form to contact you. We will treat your information with respect and will not share it with others. By clicking Subscribe, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

Statements

Kantor Center Antisemitism Worldwide Report 2019 – The Coronavirus Crisis is Reviving ‘Blood Libels’ Against Jews

EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor said that already in the first few months since the global breakout of the coronavirus, there has been a rise in antisemitic manifestations relating to the spread of the disease and the economic recession triggered by the pandemic at the release of the Antisemitism Worldwide Report 2019. The total number of major violent incidents monitored in 2019 was 456, an 18% rise from 2018.

Message from Moshe Kantor

EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor announced a series of important measures to provide support and assistance to Jewish communities and other people in need to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

EJC expresses outrage at mass display of public antisemitism at Aalst Carnival

EJC expresses outrage at the appalling mass display of open antisemitism during carnival celebrations in the Belgian city of Aalst and stands in solidarity with its affiliate, the Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jewish Organisations (CCOJB).

Dr. Moshe Kantor bestows Golden Vision award on Pope Francis

In a private meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican, EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor bestowed the 2020 Golden Vision award on Pope Francis as a token of appreciation for his message of brotherhood between Jews and Christians and his unrelenting commitment to younger generations and promoting solutions to the moral and ethical challenges of our time.