Iran: We’ll fight Israelis

IRANIAN judo officials have agreed to stop boycotting Israeli athletes on the mat.

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

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.

Iranians have on several occasions forfeited matches to avoid facing Israelis.

In February, Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei threw a match at the Paris Grand Slam to avoid facing Israeli Sagi Muki in the next round by feigning an injury.

He recovered to win his bronze medal match, but feigned another injury to avoid standing on the podium with Muki.

The IJF had threatened to ban Iran from international competitions, including the Olympics, if it did not agree to fight Israelis.

Moshe Ponte, the head of the Israeli Judo Association, welcomed Iran’s “courageous and correct decision”.

On Saturday, Muki won gold in the under-81kg category at the Baku Grand Slam, likely securing his place at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Tohar Butbul won silver in the under-71 kg category.

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