Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Regarding "Ruling postponed in Iran judo case", IHT, August 17, 2004: It does not really matter whether Arash Miresmaeili deliberately failed to make the weight of the class in which he was supposed to compete in order to avoid meeting the Israeli judoka Udi Vaks, or that he knew in advance that he would be disqualified because of overweight and wanted to give his loss an 'anti-Zionist touch'. The fact that the spokeswoman of the Iranian delegation and several Teheran officials praised his refusal to compete against a representative of the 'Zionist entity' and that he was promised the rewards of a gold medal winner should be enough proof that this was a blatant example of mixing politics and sports. Therefore soms sort of punishment for the whole Iranian delegation would be appropriate. It seems, though, that few members of international sports federations - Olympic or not - can be bothered when Israeli sportsmen and -women are at the 'receiving end' of such a mixture, and the show must go on as if nothing really happened. This was the case when Israelis were slaughtered in Munich, when Israeli soccer teams were forced to play their home matches abroad because of terror threats that today are not only Israel's problem, and it is again true when a representative of a totalitarian and fanatic regime is allowed to humiliate a colleague who just like him trained years to make it to what should be the greatest show on earth of the superiority of sportmanship and professional pride over politics.

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