Olympics: Iranian Defector Judoka Dedicates Silver Medal to Israel

Judo ban a wake-up call for Iran ahead of Olympics

Iranian defector and judoka Saeid Mollaei dedicated his silver medal to Israel at the Tokyo Olympics, and thanked the Jewish state for the “good energy.”

“This medal is also dedicated to Israel and I hope the Israelis appreciate this achievement,” Mollaei said according to the Kan public broadcaster

“I hope the Israelis are happy with this win,” Mollaei said, and added in Hebrew: “Todah (thank you).”

Mollaei competed on behalf of Mongolia in the final of the men’s judo 81-kilogram division.

Mollaei left the Iranian team after his refusal to forfeit a match against Israeli judoka Sagi Muki in 2019. Soon after he was granted refugee status by Germany when he was forced to flee his birthplace.

Mollaei became good friends with the Israeli contender, Muki.

Japan’s Takanori Nagase (white) and Mongolia’s Saeid Mollaei compete in the judo men’s -81kg gold medal bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

He eventually received citizenship in Mongolia and flew to Tel Aviv earlier this year for a competition.

Earlier this year, Iran was slapped with a four-year ban against participation in judo tournaments for refusing to let its athletes face off against Israeli competitors.


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