Iran Powerlifter Defects to Avoid Repping Terrorist Soleimani
i24 News – Decorated Iranian powerlifter Amir Assadollahzadeh is seeking asylum in Norway amid concerns of execution or torture after refusing to wear a t-shirt of the late terrorist Qassem Soleimani.
Soleimani — a designated terrorist by the United States and European Union — was Iran’s most powerful military commander until he was assassinated in January 2020 by an American drone strike.
Assadollahzadeh told CNN that a representative from Iran’s regime pressured him to wear the shirt.
Instead, he opted to defy the Islamic Republic and did not participate in the International Powerlifting Federation competition in Norway.
“I refused to wear the shirt and I was confronted with threats: If you refuse to wear the shirt, upon your return to Iran, both you and your family will face problems,” Assadollahzadeh said.
“You will be treated like someone who is against the regime and someone who has refused to work with us. Your life may also be in danger,” he added.
Sardar Pashaei, manager of the United for Navi campaign that seeks justice for the wrongfully executed Iranian champion wrestler Navid Afkari, drew similarities to Assadollahzadeh’s case.
“The case of Amir Assadollahzade was one of the cases that showed how much Iranian athletes are under pressure from the Iranian government and have become victims of politics,” he told the Jerusalem Post.
“In what other country in the world does an athlete have to wear the image of a political or military figure and be punished for not wearing it?”
Pashaei added that his campaign team sent the reports of Iranian athletes to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), “because if the IOC does not take serious action to support athletes, we will see more athletes in dangerous situations.”