Depending on your perspective, Iranian Olympic athletes are either patriots or pansies. Already, one Iranian athlete who was scheduled to compete against an Israeli athlete has claimed to have suddenly come down with a stomach ailment that will require 10-days of antibiotic treatment, forcing his withdrawal from the games. Ironically, it was in the Judo event – a sport known for its graceful and yet powerful mix of throws and take-downs, moves and counter-moves. Iran’s move to pull its athlete is very un-Judo like. So much so that Olympic Officials are considering looking into the facts of the matter.
Iran has a history of refusing to compete against Israel in sports. They withdrew from Judo at the 2004 Olympics and from Swimming in 2008. In fact, they had contemplated not competing this year at all because they were offended by the official logo, which they say looks like the word “Zion.”
From Iran’s point of view, they have a very patriotic reason for their refusal to compete against Israel – they refuse to recognize the country as a legitimate nation. Islamic Republic of Iran Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Mohammad Abbasi stated emphatically “Not competing with the Zionist athletes is one of the values and prides of the Iranian athletes and nation.”
And from their point of view, it makes perfect sense and is indeed a matter of national pride. Iran views Israel as an occupying army in lands that belong to the Palestinians.
However, there are those who would say that Iran is not so much patriotic as it is a nation of potential cry babies. After all, could you imagine the scorn that would be aimed at an Iranian athlete – perhaps at the entire Iranian Olympic team if they lost a one-on-one Judo match to an Israeli? Or if they did not post a race time better than an Israeli runner – which could potentially occur in this year’s 400m Men’s Sprint?
For Israeli Olympic Committee head Zvi Warshaviak, Iran’s withdrawal from Judo is a fulfilled prophecy. In direct reference to Iran he said prior to leaving for the Games that when the match schedules are revealed “someone will have an upset stomach.”
One can imagine, was he thinking “Iranian Patriot” or “Iranian Putz?”