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.