Iran-Israel conflict. When sport can’t handle politics. – infobae

The image of the greeting between Mostafa Rajaei, from Iran and Maksim Svirsky, from Israel, went around the world.

Mostafa Rajaei is 40 years old and is a prestigious Iranian weightlifter. Maksim Svirsky was born in Israel and is a colleague of Rajaei. They took two of the three places on the podium – silver and bronze medals, respectively – in a tournament for legends of that sport held in Wieliczka, Poland.

The images that came from the celebration, far from transmitting something negative, are, in a linear way, common to those on any podium: two athletes shaking hands, congratulating each other. And specifically, they represent a spirit of respect, empathy and appreciation for sports over any geopolitical conflict such as the one that has long separated Iran from Israel.

Paradoxically and, perhaps, predictably, those same images end up condemning Rajaei, whom the Weightlifting Federation of Iran suspended for life not only to participate in any competition but also to access any sports facility in his country.

The measure, which included the dismissal of the head of the Iranian delegation, is part of the ban on its athletes interacting directly with Israeli colleagues, which, as explained in a statement in this regard, “goes against the sacred system of the Islamic Republic”.

Of course, the intention of these lines is not to judge anything that has to do with the internal decisions of any country on any issue. Much less sensitive issues such as those that surround any war or religious conflict between nations. However, on days when sport is dangerously often used as a variable of media adjustment to differences of other kinds, it seems important to me to be even a little on alert.

Mostafa Rajaei is an Iranian weightlifter who won 2nd place at the World Master Championship in Poland. He shook the hand of Maksim Svirsky, an Israeli weightlifter who had won 3rd place.

For this simple act of sportsmanship, Mustafa has been banned from the sport by the Islamic…

— Chaim • חיים (@ChaimSmierc) August 30, 2023

If we clung plainly to the non-sports conflicts between these two countries, we could come to the conclusion that the most practical thing would be to directly prevent confrontation between athletes from both flags. And how would that be? One of the two countries, or both, should withdraw from hundreds of competitions of different hierarchies, from Olympic Games and World Championships to smaller regional competitions. In itself, it would be a huge injustice for athletes from both backgrounds. It would also mean little less than signing the High Performance death certificate on those lands. Unfeasible and arbitrary.

The next concern that comes to mind is whether, by appealing to a mixture of cynicism and pragmatism, these episodes were directly ignored by appealing to the ever-functioning concept of respect for the self-determination of nations. Nor does it seem like an equanimous variable.

This is not the case, at a time when sports leaders are struggling between mass suspensions of Russian and Belarusian athletes and the possibility that dozens of countries aligned with Ukraine will desist from sending delegations to Paris 2024 until the presence of athletes from the aggressor country and its main ally in the conflict is completely prohibited.

Clearly, one and the other are different cases. That they coincide in the warlike origin of the conflict. And in the meddling of geopolitics with sport.

And in that there is no just solution.

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