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Last Updated: Friday, 20 August, 2004, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Israeli wins judo Olympic bronze
Arik Zeevi celebrates his bronze
Arik Zeevi is Israel's fifth medallist in Olympic history
Israel has won its first medal of the Athens Olympic Games.

Arik Zeevi won the bronze medal in the 100kg judo competition, defeating Elco Van Der Geest from Holland.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called the athlete to congratulate him and thank him for the "great joy he brought to the entire Israeli people".

Zeevi's bronze is Israel's fifth medal in Olympic history, with athletes previously claiming two medals in judo, one in windsurfing and one in kayaking.

Also on Thursday, an unofficial memorial service was held in Athens at the Israeli embassy residence for 11 Israeli athletes killed by Palestinian militants at the 1972 Munich Games.

Relatives of the murdered athletes are lobbying the International Olympic Committee to have a permanent memorial to the men incorporated into the Olympics' opening ceremony.

Iran disqualification

Iran escaped censure over the failure of its judo world champion to fight another Israeli at the Olympics.

The International Judo Federation accepted the disqualification of Arash Miresmaeili came because a medical condition left him too heavy to compete in his weight class.

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

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 5kg over the 66kg 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has made no public comment beyond this quote, but many fellow fighters in world judo are reported to believe he was withdrawn from the bout against his will.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.

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