New Telegraph

Iran: Weightlifter Banned For Life After Shaking Israelis’ Hands

After shaking hands with an Israeli competitor at a competition in Poland, an Iranian weightlifter was given a lifelong ban by officials in the Islamic Republic, according to state media.

In his 40s, Mostafa Rajaei slapped hands with Israeli weightlifter Maksim Svirsky on Saturday after they both finished on the podium in a World Masters competition in Wieliczka, Poland.

“The weightlifting federation bans athlete Mostafa Rajaei for life from entering all sports facilities in the country and dismisses the head of the delegation for the competition, Hamid Salehinia,” the body announced in a statement cited by state news agency IRNA.

Iran forbids all interactions between Iranian and Israeli athletes and does not recognize Israel, which is considered a sworn enemy.

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According to the IRNA report, Rajaei “crossed the red lines of the Islamic republic” at the event where the Iranian delegation had been “sent with the support of the federation”.

Rajaei, a former Iranian national team member, competed for his nation at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Thailand in 2015.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, asked athletes “not to shake hands with a representative of the (Israeli) criminal regime to obtain a medal” in 2021.

Iranian athletes have avoided competing against Israeli competitors for years, frequently by being disqualified or presenting documents attesting to their illness.

Alireza Firouzja, a young chess prodigy, departed Iran because the nation’s chess federation forbade him from competing in the 2019 world championship for fear of playing an Israeli opponent. He has now acquired French citizenship.

 

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