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IOC rules out banning Iran from Olympic Games


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will not attempt to ban Iran from the Olympic Movement in spite of international dismay at the execution of wrestler Navid Afkari.

In a statement on Tuesday, the IOC said excluding Iran would “punish athletes” because of the political system they happen to live under.

This applies even more so in this case because the Iranian National Olympic Committee, it says, supported the IOC’s efforts to have Afkari spared.

“The difficulty for us is (that) this execution didn’t relate to a sports event,” the veteran IOC vice president John Coates said.

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“And the other difficulty is of course that there is probably 50 of the national Olympic committees (NOCs) that come from territories that still have capital punishment.”

The 70-year-old Coates is also head of the Australian Olympic Committee along with holding his IOC position.

Iran has long been problematic for the IOC, he explained.

“We’ve had difficulties with the Iranians before in their not participating or pulling out of competition,” Coates said.

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“They didn’t participate against Israel and we’ve suspended them in respect of those sports violations before.”

“But this is a different situation. This is someone who has been charged with murder.

“There are different versions of what happened and different versions of whether he got a fair trial.”

Coates says IOC president Thomas Bach had pleaded Afkari’s case with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.

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The 27-year-old Afkari was executed on Saturday at Adel-Abad prison in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz.

According to Iranian legal authorities, Afkari had killed a security officer during a demonstration there in 2018.

Iran said he had confessed, but the athlete, his family, and human rights organizations said the confession was obtained through torture.

The European Union (EU) and the U.S. have been among those to voice anger at the execution, but Iran has rejected the criticism.