Iranian mountain biker Parham Shahsavari who travelled to Switzerland to attend the International Cycling Union’s training camp has said that he will not return to Iran.
The 17-year-old confirmed on his social media accounts in the past few days that he has migrated to the European country.
Hamid Ataollahi, the secretary of Iran’s Cycling Federation, said on Saturday that the International Cycling Union – known as Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) -- had allocated a berth for a cyclist from Iran but the expenses were supposed to be paid by the cyclist. Shahsavari was introduced to the UCI as a representative from Iran but the federation had not sent him, and he went there on his own, the official added.
In May, Iran’s Ministry of Sports rejected reports that athletes have to provide a property deed as collateral to be allowed to leave the country for international competitions.
A member of Iran’s national rowing team, Ahmad Ahmadi said earlier that a notarized pledge to transfer the property is also signed before any trip abroad, adding that the federation also gets two guarantee-of-return undated checks of about $500 and $1,000 from the athletes.
Around 30 Iranian athletes have defected in recent years, seeking asylum in other countries. Some took part in this year’s Olympics in Tokyo as non-state athletes.
In addition to dress code restrictions, another issue forcing Iranian athletes to defect is Tehran’s policy of not allowing them to compete against Israelis, as was the case for Iranian judoka Olympian, and 2018 world champion Saeid Mollaei.