Olympics Hit by Crisis Over Iran-Israel Contest

Reuters – Olympics Hit by Crisis Over Iran-Israel Contest

Iran’s world judo champion Arash Miresmaeili refused to compete against an Israeli Sunday, triggering a fresh crisis at the Olympic Games where race, creed or color are barred from interfering in sport. The International Judo Federation (IJF) failed to agree how to deal with the politically explosive issue at an emergency meeting and said it would hold further talks Monday. The burning issue was whether any penalty would hit Miresmaeili alone or the entire Iranian team, as the intrusion of the Middle East’s bitter politics threatened to fly in the face of the Olympic ideal. “There has been no decision and we are considering this situation very carefully,” said IJF spokesman Michel Brousse. “This has not been brought to us as an issue and until it is, we would not have any comment,” said a spokeswoman for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which pledges to uphold the ideal of sport transcending national barriers.

While I understand the political sensitivity of this issue, it seems a rather straightforward matter from the standpoint of sport: Athletes have to participate in the matches that they’re slated for our they get disqualified. So, disqualify Miresmaeili and move on.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jay says:

    Precisely. I’m shocked that it’s a “crisis.” It’s just an athlete and his country being stupid and paying the price. End of story.

  2. arash says:

    Perhaps the world would be better served by people like you trying to understand the reasons behind such a decision by an athlete who has lived all his life for this momoent and has proven on two occasions that he is the best in the world at what he does, and yet is willing to give up his dream for an oppressed people which he may never have even met becouse of his humanity and a culture that goes back thousands of years. when you and your country stop at nothing to commit ethnic and religious cleansing, what other method of resistance is available to the rest of the world but to deny you the honour of facing them on even-terms which you would definitly lose. this hero will be remembered and admired for generations to come, but who will remember you or the nobody which he refused to fight. open your eyes and realize that oppression will not last.

  3. McGehee says:

    Arash, explain how an Iranian athlete refusing to wrestle an Israeli brings the “oppressed people” closer to “liberation.”

    The idiot had to know when he chose to go to the Olympics that this was a possibility. His decision is nothing more than an ostentatious gesture designed to distract attention from the fact he might perhaps have lost his match.

  4. Ripper says:

    A historical question, what penalty would the Ancient Greeks have extracted when faced by this type of anti-olympian?

  5. LJD says:

    Opression? Ethnic and religious cleansing?
    I thought that was Iran’s M.O.

  6. Ed Rosenblatt says:

    Where is the IOC on this matter? Why have they not come out in clear condemnation of the Iranian position? Their silence is deafening. If this violation of the Olympic spirit victimized any nation other than Israel, we would hear from the IOC loud and clear.

    More evidence of the worldwide epidemic of anti-Semitism.

  7. Ali says:

    Listen i am in total agreement with Arash, the man was the best judoka, favoured to win gold, and he was willing to sacrifice that to show his belief and protest the Zionist Regime…no matter what you think about his actions, it shows that he is a man with principles who is actually willing to stand up for his beliefs

  8. Ed Rosenblatt says:

    Those who think Arash was standing up for his beliefs are either very naive or very dishonest. He was simply following orders from Tehran. The Iranian National Olympic Committee has publicly said that he was simply following their political policy. There is no room in the Olympics for that sort of behavior. Iran should be expelled from the Olympic games.

    The sooner the US government realizes that Iran’s tyrannical regime should share the same fate as Iraq’s, the safer we all will be.