This weekend, Iranian Olympic swimmer Mohammad Alirezaei refused to compete alongside Israeli Tom Be'eri in the fourth heat of the 100-meter breaststroke. Alirezaei was ordered to pull out from the competition by the Iranian delegation. And so, the world watches as Iranian intolerance and petty politics extends its reach to the playing field.
Although the International Community Olympic Committee has accepted the excuse that Alirezaei had suddenly fallen ill, the transparency of his excuse is transparent. In the 2004 Olympics, a similar situation arose when Arash Miresmaeili, Iran's judo champion, refused to compete with Israeli hopeful Ehud Vaks. Upon his retirn to Iran, Miresmaeili was hailed as a hero, rewarding him with a $125,000 reward for sacrificing his place in the Olympics. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly said Miresmaeili's actions would be "recorded in the history of Iranian glories." This is no new phenomenon; Iran has refused to allow its athletes to play against Israeli competitors in the Olympic Games in almost 30 years.
Iran's president says he wants to wipe Israel off the map. At the same time Iran vigorously pursue a nuclear program in violation of the world community. It should come as no surprise that Iranian athletes are banned from competing against the enemy it wants annihilated.. Talk about no sense of "fair play." But then again, Iran is the world's largest sponsor of terrorism, training terrorist organizations to kill and maim innocent children and civilians. If a nation that displays such petulant childishness in an area as innocuous as sports, why should anyone think it could be trusted with potentially devastating nuclear devices?
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