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International Court Lifts Iran’s Suspension from Judo Competitions

Iran’s suspension from international judo events for ordering one of its judokas to withdraw from a match rather than face an Israeli opponent has been annulled by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The court ruled that the International Judo Federation’s (IJF) indefinite suspension ordered “until the Iran Judo Federation gives strong guarantees and proves that they will respect the IJF Statutes and accept that their athletes fight against Israeli athletes” had “no legal basis in the IJF regulations.” The court sent the matter back to the IJF Disciplinary Commission for “its eventual further decisions.”

At Judo’s 2019 World Championships in Tokyo, the Iranian judoka Saied Mollaei was ordered to throw matches at the World Judo Championships to avoid fighting against Israeli Sagi Muki. Muki won the tournament. Mollaei did not comply with the order and subsequently was spirited out of Tokyo to Germany where he received refugee status.

Mollaei now competes for Mongolia and competed in a judo competition in Israel last month, where he was reunited with Muki, who he now calls a friend. Both athletes are slated to compete in the Tokyo Olympics this summer.