blogenlust
8.14.2004

Iranian Judokas Pulls Out of Olympics


Its sad that we live in a world where this is still possible. I had thought the Olympics were a time to put these types of differences aside for two weeks. Guess not.
IRANIAN world judo champion Arash Miresmaili, who carried his country's flag in today's Olympic Games opening ceremony, has pulled out of the tournament after refusing to fight an Israeli. The 23-year-old, twice a winner of the flyweight (under 66kg) world title, opted not to take on first round opponent Ehud Vaks, of Israel, as a gesture of support for Palestine. "Although I have trained for months and was in good shape I refused to fight my Israeli opponent to sympathise with the suffering of the people of Palestine and I do not feel upset at all," Miresmaili told the IRNA news agency. Student news agency ISNA quoted Iran's sports officials as saying Miresmaili still deserved the cash prize Iranian Olympic medal winners have been promised by the Physical Education organisation. "Miresmaili must receive a special prize as he was the prime candidate for a gold medal and I will do my best about it," said head of the judo federation, Mohammad Derakhshan. It is not the first time Iranian judokas have declined to fight against Israeli opponents.
What is even more strange is that the Iranians are going to try and pay him as if he still won a medal! There are serious differences between many groups of people in the world, and the nice thing about the Olympics is that it gives people the opportunity to meet and compete against types of people they otherwise would never meet. I have to wonder how many Jewish people this judo guy has ever met. Who knows, but its possible that he could have done away with some of his stereotypes after competing with his Israeli counterpart.