Former judo world champion Saeid Mollaei competed in an international tournament in Israel for the first time after fleeing Iran. The 29-year-old, who applied for asylum in Germany after fleeing, reached the semi-finals in the Grand Slam in Tel Aviv on Friday in the weight class up to 81 kilograms. Mollaei starts for Mongolia, in the quarterfinals he defeated the German world number seven Dominic Ressel.
Such Mollaei’s story caused a stir at the World Cup in Tokyo in August 2019. At the time, the Iranian had been instructed by those in charge of his association and other officials not to play in the semifinals against Belgian Matthias Casse or to lose on purpose. Because there was threatened a final against the Israeli Sagi Muki. For decades, Iran has forbidden its athletes to compete against Israelis. Iran does not recognize Israel as a state.
Nevertheless, Mollaei went on the mat against the Belgian, but narrowly lost the fight completely unnerved. The judoka then fled Iran, now lives in an unknown place in Germany and is fighting for Mongolia, for which he also wants to take part in the Olympic Games in Tokyo this year. As a reaction, the Iranian Judo Association was blocked by the world association.
reception In Tel Aviv there was also a reunion with Muki. “Welcome brother,” the 28-year-old Israeli wrote on social media to a photo of the two. After his arrival, Mollaei thanked him for the friendly welcome. According to the Israeli embassy in Berlin, the Iranian trained there with the Israeli team. According to media reports, Muki said in a radio interview that Mollaei’s visit was a great message to the world. dpa