Time to re-enforce fight against apartheid via sports

TEHRAN, Oct. 23 (MNA) – As the International Judo Federation imposed a ban on Iran’s judo, it’s now time to take a closer look at the incident.

IJF’s disciplinary commission announced that it has imposed an indefinite ban on Iran and that the ban will stand until the Iranian Judo Federation respect the IJF Statutes. The ban came as Saeid Mollaei of Iran allegedly conceded a defeat against Belgian rival in 2019 World Championships in Tokyo to avoid a potential opponent from an Israeli regime's athlete.

Iranian athletes do not take on rivals from the Israeli regime and the reason goes back to the history of conflicts between Iran and the regime.

Tehran doesn’t recognize Israel as a state and considers it an occupying regime that is illegally being settled in Palestine. It’s been decades that Tehran is calling on the international bodies to stop the regime in Tel Aviv from oppressing the Palestinian nation.

A UN report in 2017 highlights that "Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole." The fact is that a statement from the UN cannot be neglected unless one enjoys strong lobbies in various bodies.

But what is the role of independent states in fighting against ‘apartheid’ if the UN fails to do so? There are many options on the table and one of them is putting limits on an apartheid regime’s participation in global events, including sports events. Such as the one Malaysia put on Israeli swimmers in 2019 World Para Swimming Championships. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that the Israeli swimmers would not be let into the country. Also, Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said that Malaysia “will not host any more events involving Israel or its representatives.” Due to Tel Aviv’s pressure, International Paralympic Committee stripped Malaysia of hosting the event but that is the price you have to pay for supporting an oppressed nation.

Another instance is the case of South Africa when the International Olympics Committee banned the apartheid regime from participating in international events such as the Olympics for some 20 years. The measure proved to be a move forward in the fight against racial discrimination in the African country. But what about ethnic and religious discrimination of Israel?

One cannot ignore that Israel has become so powerful in sports diplomacy and has managed to realize its goals in the international sports body. There are many examples to be discussed. Through Israeli pressure, UEFA fined the Celtic club after Scottish fans displayed Palestinian flags in a game with an Israeli opponent in 2016. However, waving an Israeli flag is a norm in Ajax games!

Or you can study the case of raising Israeli flag by Ghana’s John Paintsil after scoring a match against the Czech Republic in the 2006 World Cup. FIFA didn’t fine the player or the federation and just ‘hoped’ that some incidents would not repeat. However, Egyptian players were fined for showing pro-Gaza slogans under their shirt during the Gaza war.

From another perspective, one can point criticism to the Iranian sports officials for failing to defend the interest of the country in the international bodies. We have a list of countries that their teams don’t play each other because of their intense political disputes such as the case of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The same can happen with Iran and the Israeli regime.

MNA

News Code 151532

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