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Merely a Coincidence?

Israel's Gla Nevo. 'It embarrasses the whole competition' Photo: Getty Images Bank
Israel's Gla Nevo. 'It embarrasses the whole competition' Photo: Getty Images Bank
 
 

Iran swimmer: Withdrawal wasn't political

Two days after failing to start 100-meter breaststroke heat including Israel's Gal Nevo, Mohammed Alirezaei says he was 'tired and drowsy', has 'no problem' competing against Israeli athletes

Associated Press
Published: 07.27.11, 07:37 / Israel Culture

The Iranian swimmer who withdrew from a heat featuring an Israeli at the world championships maintains the move was not political.

 

"My flight was exactly the day before my race, so I was so tired and drowsy. Because I had to wait for my visa," Mohammed Alirezaei told The Associated Press two days after not starting a 100-meter breaststroke heat including Gal Nevo of Israel.

 

Sports and Politics
Israeli swimmer 'glad to have beaten Arabs' / Avinoam Porat and AP
Swim team expresses disappointment after Iranian competitor withdraws from heat against Gal Nevo at world championships. 'We may have been taught not to mix sports and politics, but every Israeli knows you must defeat Arabs,' Nevo says in response
Full story

Speaking after completing his 50 breaststroke heat Tuesday, Alirezaei added that he had "no problem" competing against Israeli athletes, saying he did so at junior worlds.

 

However, Alirezaei also pulled out of an event against another Israeli, Tom Beeri, in the 100 breaststroke at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The International Olympic Committee accepted the explanation then that he was ill.

 

Alirezaei said the fact that both withdrawals came against Israelis was merely a coincidence.

 

Asked about the latest withdrawal, IOC president Jacques Rogge told the AP on Monday: "I'm sure knowing the rules of FINA, the athletes will have to explain why and that most likely the athletes will have to come up with very good reasons."

 

FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu said he would ask the Iranian team for an explanation, while Nevo called for action.

 

"FINA should do something about it, because it doesn't look good. It embarrasses the whole competition," Nevo said after his 200 butterfly heat Tuesday. "Me personally, I don't mind."

 

A similar case occurred at the 2004 Athens Olympics when an Iranian judo athlete did not compete against an Israeli opponent, and Iranian government officials were quoted in state media as congratulating him for doing so.

 

Iran does not recognize Israel and bans any contact with the Jewish state.

 

Alirezaei is one of three Iranians competing in the pool competition, while Israel has a team of seven swimmers.

 

 

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