Iran’s longtime ban on its athletes competing against Israelis has earned the Islamic Republic a ban from international judo competitions. It has also spurred brave fighters like Saeid Mollaei to defect from Iran to compete in freedom against the best in the sport.
Haaretz (h/t Mike F) At least one brave Iranian fighter is taking his protest one step further, signing up to compete in the Tel Aviv Judo Grand Prix in January 2020!
Saeid Mollaei, who defected after Iranian authorities pressured him not to compete against Israeli Sagi Muki, competed on Saturday for the first time since his receiving refugee status.
Israeli judo champ Sagi Muki and Saeid Mollaei, the Iranian judoka who applied for asylum in August after Iranian authorities pressured him not to compete against Muki, continue to show public support for each other.
On Saturday, Molaei competed for the first time since his defection to Germany at the Osaka Grand Slam competition in Japan as a member of the International Judo Federation’s refugee team. That prompted Sagiv to congratulate the Iranian on Instagram, who in response called the Israeli his best friend.