Judo world champion Saeid Mollaei gave up his standing at the Grand Slam tournament rather than appearing with the Israeli silver medalist on the podium.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
The current world champion in judo’s -81kg weight class deliberately lost an important match in Sunday’s Paris Grand Slam judo tournament, apparently so as not to face his next opponent, an Israeli.
Saeid Mollaei reportedly threw his fight with a Kazakh opponent by feigning an injury. Had he won, he would have had to take on Israel’s Sagi Muki in the semi-final round.
Mollaei then managed to “recover” enough to tie for the bronze medal.
He faked yet another injury in order not to stand with Muki – the eventual silver medalist — on the podium. In a video of his last bout, he collapses towards the end, clutching his right knee.
He allegedly was being treated at the hospital when the medals were presented.
“We are going to analyze this case very seriously, because it is not easy to explain how the athlete lost the match, from a methodological point of view,” said Marius Vizer, president of the International Federation of judo, in a tweet.
This was not the first time Mollaei has play-acted at a competition when an Israeli was involved, said the report. At the October Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, he quit his quarterfinal match in the middle, clutching his ankle in supposed pain. Then, too, his next opponent would have been Sagi Muki.
Israel’s premier judoka won gold at that event, and the Jewish state’s national anthem was played for the first time ever in the United Arab Emirates.
Other Iranian judokas have also pulled out of events recently in order to obey the government ban on competing against Israelis.
At the 2018 Tbilisi Grand Prix, for example, Mohammad Abbas Nejad didn’t show up to face Israeli Yarin Mnagid in the -66 weight category. And last February, Israeli judoka Tohar Abutbul won bronze in Germany after his scheduled Iranian opponent suddenly gained too much weight to compete in the under-73 kg. class.