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Page last updated at 09:29 GMT, Saturday, 13 September 2008 10:29 UK

Iranian basketball team withdraws

Iran's basketball team
Iran's Ahmed Daghaghelepour in action against Germany

Iran denied the withdrawal of their Paralympic wheelchair basketball team was politically motivated because of a potential match-up with Israel.

Iran forfeited their quarter-final against the USA on Saturday but an official said it was prompted by the decision to bring the game forward.

The match was to be aired live on television in Iran, with many Iranians in China having bought tickets.

"These problems meant the team decided not to play," said a team official.

Iran does not recognise Israel and bans any official contact with the Jewish state.

But the unnamed official told the Associated Press: "It's not a political action.

"We have had competition between the USA in goalball, there is no political action in this regard."

Iran's deputy chef de mission Iran Doust added: "Each match should be done one after another, but unfortunately, concerning our match they didn't observe the order and that's the reason (for pulling out)."

The United States team received notice of the time change just 24 hours before the match, said Jeannine Hansen, a spokeswoman for the American Paralympic delegation.

Teams were told before the Games that competition times could change for TV broadcasts or other reasons.

And Hansen said: "We agreed to the time change for the game with Iran, but we weren't given a specific reason."

But Games officials insisted the remaining teams will be able to continue in the competition.

An International Paralympic Committee statement read: "We regret this disruption to the tournament."

see also
Paralympic row remains unresolved
27 Jun 06 |  Paralympics
IPC to continue eligibility talks
25 Nov 04 |  Paralympics

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