So much for the Olympic spirit. Just days after U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon announced the traditional Olympic Truce – for people and nations to “set aside their differences” during London 2012 – news emerged that the one Iranian athlete likely to face an Israeli in competition has withdrawn with a “gut infection.”
Iran and a number of other Islamic counties have pulled athletes from international competitions in the past rather than face Israelis, but International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge warned recently that “sanctions will be taken” if any athlete withdraws from a competition without an explanation that is upheld by an independent medical board.
Iranian Javad Mahjoub qualified in the same half-heavyweight judo category as an Israeli, Ariel Ze’evi, who participated in the last three Olympics, won the bronze medal in Athens 2004, and is the 2012 European champion. The half-heavyweight category competition is scheduled for August 2.
But Iranian Sports Medicine Federation head Lotfali Pour-Kazemi said this week Mahjoub’s condition required a 10-day antibiotic course and he would not be able to compete. An Iranian judo website quoted him as saying the judoka was experiencing “weakness, nausea and vomiting.”