Olympic Youth Games – IOC expresses its anger

2010/08/19

Published in German daily “Frankfurter Rundschau” on 17 August 2010
Source (English): http://www.fr-online.de/sport/ioc-gibt-sich-veraergert/-/1472784/4566396/-/index.html
English translation provided by Elli Mee

Due to the scandal around the Iranian taekwondo fighter Mohammad Soleimani at the Olympic Youth Games, sport has become a minor issue.

The ugly face of politics has once again dominated a sportive event: “We are still verifying the facts. So far, no concrete steps have been taken [against the Iranian team], but the keyword is up to now” – said IOC vice-president Thomas Bach after the éclat around the Iranian athlete Mohammad Soleimani, who had withdrawn from the taekwondo final against Israeli Gili Haimovitz at the Olympic Youth Games in Singapore.

An influential IOC member, who did not want to be named, said: “For 31 years, the Iranians have been straining our patience. They boycott matches against Israeli opponents at every major tournament, and we can do nothing about it. This must finally change.“ IOC member and former vice-president Kevin Gosper (Australia) could barely restrain his anger: “You may cite me as saying that I am very disappointed.”

Thomas Bach added: “We have checked the medical certificate. The athlete is indeed injured and was taken to hospital for an X-ray. There have been similar incidents in the past, but one should not just generalize them.”

Since the 1979 revolution, Iran is giving the cold shoulder to Israel, which it does not recognize as a state. The Islamic Republic has even threatened to wipe Israel off the map. On Tuesday, the Israelis asked the US government for help because of the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear program.

The Iranian government’s interference in sport lead to a major scandal during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Back then, judo world champion Arash Miresmaeili did not attend a match against the Israeli Ehud Vaks, allegedly because of overweight.

( sid)

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