Syrian judoka Ziad Aun competes for the IJF Refugee Team

Syrian judoka cancels Israel tourney due to death threats

Ziad Aun, who now lives in Netherlands and competes for IJF Refugee Team, began receiving threats against himself and his family after Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem highlighted his participation on social media in Arabic, in a post that later circulated in Iran

Oren Aharoni |
Published: 01.16.20 , 19:11
A Syrian judoka who fled his native country due to the years-long civil war has cancelled his participation in a tournament in Israel after receiving death threats.
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  • Ziad Aun, 35, was set to compete in the men's -66kg category at the Tel Aviv Grand Prix 2020 on January 23-25 as part of the International Judo Federation's Refugee Team.
    זיאד עאוןזיאד עאון
    Syrian judoka Ziad Aun competes for the IJF Refugee Team
    (Photo: IJF)
    But he announced Thursday that he would not be attending due to the threats he has received in recent days.
    Aun's withdrawal comes after the Foreign Ministry posted in Arabic on social media about his attendance, which was soon circulated in Iran as well as in the Netherlands, where Aun now lives.
    Soon after, Aun received dozens of threats against him and his family, and consequently contacted the Dutch police and even filed a complaint.
    The Foreign Ministry post in Arabic about Ziad Aun competing in Tel Aviv
    Aun, who said he very much wanted to compete in Israel, contacted an Israeli friend in the Netherlands in an effort to learn about his security arrangements during his time in Tel Aviv.
    But given the increasing number of threats, decided to forgo his place in the competition.
    Likely to compete for the refugee team in the Tel Aviv tourney, however, is Iranian judoka Mohammad Rashnonezhad.
    Rashnonezhad, who fights in the -60kg category, left his country for the Netherlands after he was not allowed to compete against Israelis.
    Fellow Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei fled to Germany after he was instructed by the Tehran regime to withdraw from competing to avoid a potential contest against Israel's Sagi Muki in the semi-final of the 2019 World Judo Championships in Tokyo last August.
    סעיד מולאיסעיד מולאי
    Saeid Mollaei
    (Photo: IJF)
    The incident led the International Judo Federation to suspend the Iran Judo Federation from all activities held by the international organization.
    It also led to a close friendship between Muki and Mollaie.
    "I am friends with Sagi Muki, as I am with all other athletes. He supports me and I thank him for this," Mollaei told a German outlet last year. He later described Muki as "his best friend."
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