By Pooya Stone
In recent years, many Iranian athletes under the rule of the Velayat-e Faqih (mullahs’ regime) have left Iran’s national teams and traveled to other countries to continue their activities. This has become an issue for Iranian athletes to confront the regime.
In recent years and months, there have been reports of national athletes stepping down in various disciplines, leaving the national team in their respective fields and moving to other countries to pursue their sports activities. A number of other athletes have dropped out of the professional sport in protest of the regime’s policies.
Athletes of any country are undoubtedly one of the national assets of the country, but in Iran the field for the athletes is so narrowed, that the Iranian athletes accept the hardship of migration, leaving the country and home.
Not long ago, Kimia Alizadeh’s departure from the Taekwondo national team was announced. At the Rio Olympics, she won the first-ever women’s Olympic medal for Iran.
Oppression of women factors for leaving Iran
Taekwondo champion Kimia Alizadeh, the only female medalist in the Olympics, announced: “I am one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran who have been playing with me how the wanted for many years… they put my medals on a forced veil and attributed their management and tact … they don’t care about me. No one of us was important for them… In your patriarchal and misogynist minds, you always thought Kimia was female and had no tongue! Dear Iranian people, I didn’t want to climb the stairs of corruption and lies… I suffer from the hardship of roving because I did not want to sit at the table of hypocrisy, lies, injustice, and flattery. I remain a child of Iran wherever I am…”
The regime first tried to deny it. Mohamad Pouladgar, head of Iran’s Taekwondo Federation, called the news of her migration to Europe “a rumor”. But subsequent events indicated that Alizadeh would no longer be on the scene regime.
Delimiting with the regime and sympathizing with the Iranian people
In the latest example, Aria Jafari, the national kayaker, announced that he was saying goodbye to the national team. Aria Jafari cited the reason for the resignation as “the problems facing the people“.
Jafari wrote, “I am very sad now that after 14 years in the Iranian kayak team due to lack of mental preparation and due to the many problems facing my country people I cannot see the ability to continue and declare my farewell to the Iranian kayak team.”
Why do Iranian athletes leave home?
National athletes as porters
The story of Mehdi Khosravi, a 20-year-old resident of Kani Dinar Marivan, and a member of the Iranian Youth Boxing Team, maybe the answer to the question: “I started boxing at age 16 and I was invited to the Iranian Youth Boxing Team in 2018. Because of poor financial conditions, I was forced to work as a porter. If the weather is snowy, I will go to twice in a week to the defile of Tah Tah Houraman for porting.”
Mehdi Khosravi responded to the words of the Kurdistan Boxing Board secretary who had denied his porting, saying: “I’m working as a porter since 15 because of poor financial conditions.” National athletes like Khosravi are many in Iran.
National athletes as vendors
Atusa Abbasi is the first female solo medalist in Asian cycling and record speed owner in Iran since 2014; she is currently working as a vendor due to poorness while having a little child.
Atusa Abbasi and her husband Ruhollah Ahmadi, who is a bicycle trainer and is currently working as a taxi driver, live in a rented parking lot.
“At the time I was away from cycling for three years because of pregnancy, nobody was able to break my record,” says Atusa Abbasi. There is no one to support me.”
Impecunious national athletes
Susan Rashidi is the country’s women kickboxing champion. But she is a nomadic girl from Kermanshah’s tribes. Susan Rashidi had previously said: “Some days I didn’t even have the money to rent a car to go to practice, and I used to spend the little money from my food for arriving. Of course, I became nine times a champion, but nothing was given to me as a championship reward.”
Impose Coverage on Athletes
The type of coverage is one of the issues that, contrary to all the international laws the regime, has made it a lever for pressure on athletes in the field of sport.
Mitra Hejazipour, chess champion and Grand Master of Women at the World Rapid and Lightning Championships hosted by Moscow, while refusing to wear the coverage forced by the regime, was fired from the national team after 18 years of honor. The regime’s president of the chess federation announced that this athlete “will no longer have a place in the national team”.
Dorsa Derakhshani (out of the national team) played in the Gibraltar Cup without the proper cover forced by the regime. She was then deprived and emigrated to the United States.
‘Inadequacy of some thief officials’ another factor in migration
In some cases, the Nationalists athletes openly proclaim the corruption of the regime’s heads. Amir Mohammad Shahnawazi, the holder of the Asian Powerlifting Silver Medal, announced recently that he did not intend to return to Iran from France.
Shahnawazi said his decision to leave the country was “incompetent by some of the thief officials” who he “attacked as lepra in the country.”
The political and reactionary authorities of the national separatist operating system
The Velayat-e Faqih regime prevents Iranian athletes from competing against opponents who are not affiliated with the Velayat-e Faqih.
Saeed Malai, a former member of the Iranian judo team, emigrated from Iran to protest the ban to contra the Israeli opponents.
Malai formally withdrew from the Iranian team on 31 August 2019, the World Judo Federation suspended all Iranian judo activities following the regime’s ridiculous decision that forced athletes not to compete with Israeli athletes at the World Judo-Tokyo World Cup.
The International Olympic Committee has warned that the Iranian government is being closely watched to prevent political interference in sports.
Before Malai, Arash Aghaei, on the Iranian national Judo team, was granted asylum in Azerbaijan and has been fighting as an Azerbaijani athlete in international judo competitions since 3 February 2019.
Earlier, Shayan Nasirpour, another Iranian judoka, took refuge in Turkey, and Mohammad Rashnonejad, another Iranian judoka, joined the Dutch national team.
Alireza Firouzja, Iran’s chess grandmaster, competed in the Russian Championship without the Iranian flag and became vice world champion. Firouzja, while confirming his change of nationality, announced that he would now play for France.
Firouzja made the decision after the Ministry of Sports prevented the national chess team from being sent to the world championships to avoid potential Israeli rivals.
The regime’s chess federation in a letter to Nigel Short, vice president of the World Chess Federation, called for a ban on Firuzja’s participation in the tournament.
Arresting national athletes in November 2019 uprising
On 2 January 2020, Navid Zanganeh, a 23-year-old Iranian national wrestler and world bronze medalist, emigrated to Canada. Zanganeh was arrested during the November 2019 protests.
Navid Zanganeh was released from Fashafaviye prison after 15 days of silence, and then two days after his arrest was made public, he left the country.
Zanganeh was shot in a rally in Tehran Pars with a shotgun and detained after being taken to hospital.
Before that, several other Iranian wrestlers had migrated to Azerbaijan, including Mohammad Reza Azarshakib, who holds the bronze medal in the Asian Championship 2010. He joined the Azerbaijan national team in 2019.
Saba Shariati was another Iranian wrestler who emigrated to Azerbaijan and won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in 2016.
Saman Tahmasebi is another Iranian wrestler who has won several medals with the Azerbaijani national wrestling team.
What is happening in Iran’s national sports scene is because of nothing other than the pressure of the Iranian regime.
The Velayat-e Faqih regime has burnt down Iranian homes and lives and as well as those of Iranian athletes, because of its benefits. These are why the Iranian athletes have no other choice than to leave the country while all of them didn’t want to make such a hard decision.