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Iran’s Supreme Leader Pledges Support to Muslim Athletes Who Won’t Face Israelis
Iranian shooter Javad Foroughi of Iran poses on the podium with his gold medal following the 10m Air Pistol Men's event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Asaka Shooting Range on July 24, 2021 in Asaka, Saitama, Japan. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Pledges Support to Muslim Athletes Who Won’t Face Israelis

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promised to continue to support Iranian athletes that refuse to compete against Israelis at sporting events, referring to Israel as “genocidal” and “illegal.” Khamenei said, “A freethinking athlete cannot acknowledge the Zionist regime for the sake of a medal,” during a reception on Saturday for Iranian athletes who medaled at the Tokyo Games. He accused Israel – the “Zionist regime” – of attempting to “win legitimacy” by participating in international sporting events. “Our athletes cannot just stand idly by,” he added. Khamenei ordered the Iranian Sports and Foreign Affairs ministries to legally support Iranian athletes and athletes from other Muslim countries when they are disciplined in international forums for their refusal.

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