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Germany grants refugee status Saeid Mollaei
28 Nov 2019 09:25
Germany has granted refugee status to an Iranian judo star who said he is afraid to return home after exposing and criticizing his government’s pressure on him to deliberately lose in the World Championships in Tokyo last summer to avoid a potential bout against Sagi Muki of Israel.‘Now I can fully concentrate on judo,’ says Saeid Mollaei, who can’t return home after exposing his government’s pressure to throw matches to avoid Israeli opponents.
Muki called Mollaei his best friend and both athletes are preparing for the Grand Prix in Tel Aviv in January in Israel. You need a betting calculator to predict the outcome of such battle between two World Champions for life. Muki should be the favourite given his world title and Mollaei who finished seventh in Osaka will be the underdog if it comes to a contest in Israel.
Saeid Mollaei, the defending heavyweight world champion, fled to Berlin after the championships, where he is hoping to secure a place at the 2020 Olympic games. The IJF have taken Mollaei into the refugee team, a suggestion raised straight away after the incident happened at the World Championships by judo website 100judo.com
The International Judo Federation said in a Saturday statement that Mollaei had obtained the refugee status “in record time, thanks to the diligence of the German authorities.”
Responding to the news, Mollaei said, “I am very happy and I want to thank from the bottom of my heart everybody who helped me in those difficult moments. Now I can fully concentrate on judo and the preparation for the next IJF events and for the Olympic Games.”
Mollaei said that he was coerced into losing his World Championship semifinal bout so as not to risk facing Israel’s Sagi Muki, the eventual winner, in the Tokyo final. The IJF said Mollaei had been pressured to lose by Iranian deputy sports minister Davar Zani. Mollaei and was also reportedly pressured to bow out by Iranian Olympic Committee president Reza Salehi Amiri, who told him minutes before his semifinal match that Iranian security services were at his parents’ house in Tehran.
“Because of the law in my country, I was obliged not to fight against my Israeli opponent,” Mollaei told the IJF in an interview after the championships. “They said: ‘This is the law, and those who do not comply with it will certainly have problems.'”
“I need help. Even if the authorities of my country told me that I can go back without any problems, I am afraid,” he told the IJF. “I am afraid of what might happen to my family and to myself.”
The International Judo Federation has thrown its support behind Mollaei, and has vowed help him reach the summer 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo.
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Martina Esposito (ITA)