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Israeli wins gold in judo world championships while Iranian athlete fears for his life

Israeli judoka Sagi Muki won the judo world championship last week, after being shunned by an Egyptian opponent who refused to shake his hand.

Muki defeated Egyptian opponent Mohamed Abdelaal, who refused to shake his hand at the end of their semi-final match. This happened to Israel’s Ori Sasson at the Rio Olympics in 2016 when another Egyptian judoka refused to shake his hand. Sasson went on to win the bronze medal. 

“I’m sorry” that Abdelaal refused, said Muki. “I’m pleased that I was able to show the beautiful face of Israel.”

The Israeli’s response was also in stark contrast to news about Iran’s Saeid Mollaei who would’ve faced Muki in the semifinals had he advanced. The Islamic regime is apparently enraged with Mollaei for not losing or dropping out sooner to avoid competing against an Israeli – even though Iran ended its longstanding ban on its athletes facing off with Israelis allegedly four months ago.

Mollaei is now afraid to return home. The International Judo Federation claims Mollaei was ordered to withdraw from last week’s competition by Iranian deputy sports minister Davar Zani. Mollaei also received a call from Iranian Olympic Committee president Reza Salehi Amiri who told him security services were at his parents’ house, according to the IJF.

Mollaei said he was ordered to withdraw earlier so it wouldn’t appear to be a boycott of Israel, but he kept competing only to lose in the semifinals before having to face Muki.

“I want to compete wherever I can,” Mollaei said in a statement from the IJF. “I live in a country whose law does not permit me to. We have no choice, all athletes must comply with it. All I did today was for my life, for a new life.”

“I need help. Even if the authorities of my country told me that I can go back without any problems, I am afraid.”

Iranian sports teams have traditionally refused to compete against Israeli teams and athletes, throwing matches or making up “questionable injuries,” the IJF said. But four months ago judo officials announced that Iran’s Salehi Amiri pledged to “fully respect the Olympic charter and its non-discrimination principle.” It didn’t take too long to see how Iran keeps its promises.

Muki was the first Israeli male to win the championship, but the first Israeli was Yarden Jarbi who won the World Judo Championship in Rio de Janeiro in the women’s under-63 kilogram category.

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