Charlotte Tyler
September 2, 2023

Iranian weightlifter banned for life for shaking hands with Israeli opponent

A weightlifter from Iran was permanently prohibited from the sport after he was spotted shaking hands with an Israeli competitor.

Mostafa Rajaei and Maksim Svirsky posed for a photograph at the World Masters Weightlifting Championships in Poland, as Fox News reported.

Iran does not recognize Israel and prohibits any contact between Iranian and Israeli athletes, as reported by the New York Post. The Iran Weightlifting Federation called the act "unforgivable."

"The weightlifting federation bans athlete Mostafa Rajaei for life from entering all sports facilities in the country and dismisses the head of the delegation for the competition, Hamid Salehinia," the organization announced.

Iran's Policy for Athletes

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, instructed competitors in 2021 "not to shake hands with a representative of the (Israeli) criminal regime to obtain a medal."

In recent years, Iranian athletes were disqualified and given medical certificates to avoid competing with Israeli athletes.

Rajaei "crossed the red lines of the Islamic Republic" at the event where the Iranian delegation was "sent with the support of the federation."

The athlete placed second overall in the men's over-35 240-pound division at the competition. He beat the world record with a clean and jerk of 430 pounds.

Athletes from other nations have also contended with geopolitical conflicts-related tensions, as Forbes reported. Due to the invasion of Ukraine, the 2022 Wimbledon Tennis Championship banned Russian and Belarussian competitors.

Ukrainian tennis players, including Elina Svitolina, have refused to shake the hands of Russians and Belarusians after matches in which they have competed.

Russia and Belarus will not be permitted to field official Olympic teams at the 2024 Summer Games in Paris; however, individual athletes will be able to compete as neutral athletes.

Contentious History

Iran does not recognize Israel as a legitimate state, and numerous Iranian leaders have called for Israel's destruction and threatened military action against the country, according to Forbes.

Israel has pushed back against Iran's apparent nuclear ambitions, while Iran has criticized Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians and provides support to the terrorist organization Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

The International Judo Federation banned Iran from the sport for four years in 2021 as a result of Iran's policy prohibiting competition with Israel.

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