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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 August, 2004, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Iranian cleared of judo 'boycott'
Iranian and Israeli flag bearers at the Olympics opening ceremony
Iran and Israel are implacable foes away from the sporting arena
Iran has escaped censure over the failure of its judo world champion to fight an Israeli at the Olympics.

The International Judo Federation accepted the disqualification of Arash Miresmaeili came because a medical condition left him too heavy to fight.

The federation allowed Miresmaeili's defence that had no pre-planned intention not to fight and noted he had not said he was boycotting the bout.

"The IJF has no rule for penalising overweight athletes," the body said.

The IJF statement quoted Miresmaeili as saying he had "made no statement of any sort to any press."

A special panel was convened to examine the case and Miresmaeili was interviewed for three hours on Wednesday.

Since he stated he had no pre-planned intention for not competing and that 'he had made no statement of any sort to any press', the only point that remained was that he was overweight
IJF commission statement
The International Olympic Committee takes a dim view of political gestures at the Games and is liable to punish athletes or teams which make them.

The 23-year-old double world champion, who carried his country's flag at the Games' opening ceremony, weighed more than five kilograms over the 66 kg limit for the bout against Israeli Ehud Vaks.

After the draw, he was quoted by the Iranian news agency as saying that he had refused to face his Israeli rival in sympathy with the "oppressed Palestinian people".

Miresmaeili has made no public comment beyond this quote, but many fellow fighters in world judo are reported to believe he was pulled out of the bout against his will.

Iranian judo competitors pulled out of two fights at the 2001 world judo championships when they were drawn against Israeli opponents.

A spokesman for the Iran National Olympic Committee had said it was a "general policy" of the country to refrain from competing against Israeli athletes and that Miresmaeili had simply observed the protocol.

Iran's President Mohammad Khatami said Miresmaeili's act would be recorded among the nation's glories.

However, the Iranian Olympic team had subsequently explained to the IJF that the fighter had suffered from digestive problems on arrival in Athens and had been unable to lose weight in time.




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