If it does not act now, IOC will have wrestling champ’s blood on ...

Sport

If it does not act now, IOC will have wrestling champ’s blood on its hands

Olympic committee may be the only body that can save Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari, who is about to be executed

Daniel Schofield

In the coming days, if not hours, champion wrestler Navid Afkari is due to be executed by the Iranian government for what are widely accepted to be trumped-up murder charges. His real crime was to participate in antigovernment protests that swept Iran in 2018.

His planned death, which has drawn protests from figures as diverse as US President Donald Trump and players’ unions around the world, would present the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with a serious test of what little moral leadership it possesses. Execution must equal expulsion from the Olympic family. Nothing else is good enough.

Let us remember that the IOC is an organisation that ruled out any form of political protest, whether kneeling or raising a fist, on the podium at the Tokyo Olympics. “It is a fundamental principle that sport is neutral and must be separate from political, religious or any other type of interference,” the IOC said in January. “The focus for the field of play and related ceremonies must be on celebrating athletes’ performance and showcasing sport and its values.”..

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