The relief is not only great among Iranian athletes. The legislative initiative that Iranian athletes should now also be legally banned from competing with Israeli athletes is off the table. The deputies of the Madjles (Parliament of Iran) have deleted the clause explicitly related to sport from the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Foreign Affairs from the "Application for a confrontation against the actions of the Zionist regime that endanger peace and security".
"That would have been suicide for Iranian sport," says Mehdi Jafari Gorzini, Mainz SPD politician, who was born in Iran and had to flee to Germany in 1980 due to the political situation in his home country. However, this possible sporting "suicide" seemed to leave certain representatives of the regime cold. Ebrahim Azizi, member of the parliamentary committee, had defended the proposed law in all its facets. In the Islamic Republic, ideological principles are more important than sporting events, Azizi said. A complete exclusion of all sports from international competitions is therefore "no problem".
Athletes highlight Iranian identity
This has not happened now. However, it is undisputed that there has been a clear, but not written, stipulation on the part of those in power for years so that Iranian athletes are not allowed to compete against Israelis – and therefore have to repeatedly pretend or intentionally lose injuries.
Most recently, in September 2019, the Iranian world-class judoka Saeid Mollaei had after fleeing toLooking back at the 2019 Tokyo World Cup, he said: "I had to get permission for every fight. The orders came from Iran, went to the team's head coach, and I had to follow those orders. Not just me the whole world knows what the consequences would have been if I had refused, so I kept the law so that I and my family would not have any problems. "
Another prominent victim of this policy is Rasul Kahdem. The former president of the Iranian wrestling association and ex-national coach of the freestyle wrestling team resigned in 2018 because of his country's anti-Israeli stance. It is precisely from this situation that the Iranian athletes want to free themselves and flee from their country. "The athletes said: we no longer want this and no longer want to support the autocratic mullahs regime," says German-Iranian and DW journalist Farid Ashrafian. "But they always emphasize their Iranian identity, which has nothing to do with the Islamic Republic."
Iranian athletes put pressure on them
The world-class canoeist Saeid Fazloula has also left his country in order not to have to face these unpleasant situations in the future. In 2015, he applied for asylum as a refugee in Germany, but now he has a completely new start in Germanymade. When he heard about the mullahs' legislative initiative, he immediately took the initiative. On Instagram, he asked the German government for interventions: "So that international pressure is exerted," he told DW.
Fazloula has a guess as to why the tide has turned: "Many Iranian athletes have exerted pressure internally to have this passage deleted," says Fazloula. Those in power who wanted to make this the law would not have expected such resistance.
Khameni's tweet causes international criticism
Meanwhile, Iran's revolutionary leader Ajatollah Ali Khamenei has received sharp international criticism with a post on Twitter that shows a picture of the "final solution" in Jerusalem. Fazloula even rated this statement rather positively with regard to the athlete competitions. "I read from the Khamenei tweet: The religious leader could have influenced the parliamentarians because Khamenei wants to have the state of Israel eliminated, but not the people and the Jews."
The 27-year-old could conclude from this: "This could be an unofficial green light, that a surprising total reversal could soon take place, and yet competitions against Israel could soon be possible." Although he spoke brutally, aggressively and completely inappropriately of the "final solution". "As always, the Iranian regime is unpredictable. The rulers do not make rational decisions, but based on temporarily established ideologies," said SPD politician Mehdi Jafari Gorzini.