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November 5, 2019 11:01 am

Iranian Judoka Granted Refugee Status by Germany

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Judo – World Judo Championships – Men’s Under 81 kg – Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – August 28, 2019 – Iran’s Saeid Mollaei reacts. Photo: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon. – Germany granted refugee status to Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei, who was seeking asylum in the country after claiming Iranian officials earlier this year pressured him to withdraw from a competition in order to avoid fighting an Israeli opponent.

The International Judo Federation said in a statement on Saturday that Mollaei received official notice from the German Office for Migration and Refugees that he can now benefit from the status of “Recognized Refugee,” i24News reported.

“I am very happy, and I want to thank from the bottom of my heart everybody who helped me in those difficult moments,” Mollaei said following the news. “Now I can fully concentrate on judo and the preparation for the next IJF events and for the Olympic Games.”

Mollaei openly criticized the Iranian government for demanding that he not face Israeli judoka Sagi Muki at the World Judo Championships in Tokyo on Aug. 28.

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