A young Iranian kickboxer who had traveled to Italy for a tournament has left his hotel and reportedly gone to Germany to apply for political asylum.
Omid Ahmadisafa has received permission from Iran’s boxing federation to travel to Italy, where he left his hotel and never returned, according to Khabar Online website in Tehran. Informed sources believe he might have gone to Germany to apply for asylum.
Several Iranian athletes in the past two years have defected from Iranian national teams and sought asylum in other countries. Some took part in the year’s Olympics in Tokyo as non-state athletes.
One of the main issues forcing Iranian sports people to defect is Tehran’s policy of not allowing them to compete against Israelis. Apparently Ahmadisafa was also forced to lose weight to compete in a lower weight class to avoid an Israeli opponent.
Refusing to compete against an opponent for political reasons is banned in international sports, but various federations have so far given Iran a free pass. Iran also does not allow women as spectators in men’s games such as soccer, basketball and volleyball.
Iranian media say Ahmadisafa is a promising young star in light-weight boxing and kickboxing. He has a gold medal from Asian games and a champion in kickboxing.