Exiled Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei dedicated his medal to the State of Israel after winning the silver medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
“This medal is also dedicated to Israel, and I hope the Israelis are happy with this achievement,” Mollaei said upon receiving his medal on Tuesday.
Mollaei made headlines after he ignored Iranian officials’ demands to withdraw from the World Judo Championships in order to avoid competing against an Israeli.
After losing in the semifinals of the competition – a result he says was affected by the emotional stress caused by the Iran officials request – he travelled to Germany to begin the process of applying for asylum.
He was recognized as a refugee in Germany in November of 2019.
Mollaei’s change of nationality to Mongolia from refugee status was approved by the International Olympic Committee in March of 2020, and he represented Mongolia in the 2021 games.
In response to Iran’s boycott of Israeli athletes, the International Judo Federation (IJF) banned Iran from all international competitions, saying the ban would be in effect “until the Iran Judo Federation gives strong guarantees and prove that they will respect the IJF Statutes and accept that their athletes fight against Israeli athletes”.
Source: Arutz Sheva
Saeid Mollaei, a former Iranian judoka now representing Mongolia, took home the silver medal in the men’s 81-kilogram division, losing the gold to Takanori Nagase of Japan.
It was the first Olympic medal for Mollaei, two years after he left his native Iran.
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