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Iranian weightlifter gets lifetime ban over picture with Israeli

In the picture, Rajai was draped in his country’s national flag, standing next to Israeli participant, Maksim Svirsky on Saturday in Wieliczka, Poland. Photo: @sebusher/X

Iranian weightlifter, Mostafa Rajai has been given a lifetime ban by Iran’s weightlifting federation after talking to and taking a photo with an Israeli participant at the World Masters Championship.

The picture was taken after Mostafa Rajai won silver at the event and was snapped on the podium standing next to the Israeli bronze medallist.

“The Weightlifting Federation bans the athlete Mostafa Rajai for life from accessing all sports facilities in the country, and dismisses the head of the delegation for the competition, Hamid Salehinia,” said a statement quoted by the Iranian news agency IRNA.

BBC reports that Iran’s authorities have banned athletes from direct competition with Israelis and as such, Iranian sportspersons at times resort to various methods, including throwing games or feigning injury to avoid match-ups.

Rajai, 40, was draped in his country’s national flag as he stood next to Israeli athlete, Maksim Svirsky on Saturday in Wieliczka, Poland.

The country’s national news agency, IRNA, reported that Rajai had “crossed the red lines of the Islamic republic”.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, urged athletes not to shake hands with Israeli competitors in order to obtain a medal in 2021.

Writing by Muzha Kucha; Editing by Daniel Adejo and Tony Okerafor