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March 1, 2021 2:32 pm

New TV Series Announced About Judo World Champions Saeid Mollaei From Iran and Israel’s Sagi Muki

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Israeli Sagi Muki, winner of the 2019 World Judo Championship. Photo: Naoki Nishimura / Aflo Sports / Reuters.

A scripted television series is being developed based on the lives of judo world champions Saeid Mollaei from Iran and his Israeli counterpart Sagi Muki, Deadline announced on Monday.

MGM/UA Television and Israel’s Tadmor Entertainment have acquired the life rights to the judokas and are collaborating with the International Judo Federation to develop the series.

According to the show’s logline, the series will tell “the incredible true story of Iranian Saeid Mollaei, one of history’s bravest athletes, who despite threats from his handlers, refused to give in and chose to compete against his friend Sagi Muki from Israel. As a result, Mollaei was forced to flee from his country and live as a refugee in Germany. Soon these two incredible judokas will meet on the mat for the first time during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. This is a story of bravery, friendship against all odds, and the true spirit of sport.”

“It’s my privilege to take part in this unusual project,” Muki told The Algemeiner Monday. “We want to send the message that sport is outside of politics, and we are all one family. When Sayed and I meet in the final, the first victory will be the friendship between us. I truly believe that with the help of this project, the second victory will be the understanding between our peoples. I want to say thank you to MGM and Tadmor Entertainment.”

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The TV series will feature exclusive footage of the athletes and a documentary about the two judokas is also in production, Deadline reported.

Mollaei fled to Germany after exposing that Iranian authorities instructed him to intentionally lose the semi-final of the 2019 World Judo Championships in Tokyo to avoid potentially competing against Muki in the finals. Two months later, the International Judo Federation banned the Iran Judo Federation from all activities held by the international organization until it had lifted its ban on Iranian athletes competing against Israelis. But on Monday, that ban was lifted by a court of arbitration.

Muki and Mollaei have been public about their close friendship, despite tensions between Iran and Israel. Muki called the Iranian judoka a “friend of life” on Instagram when he shared a photo of them posing together at the Paris Grand Slam 2020, and Mollaei previously called the Israeli “my best friend.” The two friends recently reunited at the International Judo Federation’s Tel Aviv Grand Slam in Israel in February. Mollaei, now a citizen of and competing for Mongolia, won a silver medal in the competition’s 81kg category on Feb. 19.

MGM/UA Television President Steve Stark said, “Sagi Muki and Saeid Mollaei are both inspiring and groundbreaking athletes whose rivalry and impossible friendship has transcended the world of judo to captivate sports fans and hearts across the globe.”

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