The International Olympic Committee (IOC) called the execution of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkair, “very sad news” and said their thoughts were with his family and friends. Amnesty International were stronger, they described it as, “travesty of justice.” Afkari was convicted of killing a security guard during anti-government protests in 2018 and claimed to have confessed to the killing under torture.
Navid Afkair is not the first athlete to have his fundamental rights infringed by the State. Footballer and pro-democracy athlete Hakeem al-Araibi was forced to flee Bahrain and resisted efforts for him to be returned there after Bahrain obtained an Interpol “Red Notice”. Calls for the IOC and FIFA to impose sanctions against Bahrain and Thailand (where he was detained under the Red Notice) did not prove fruitful (perhaps complicated by the fact that the FIFA vice president was Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa, a Bahraini royal). Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei was ordered to intentionally lose a match in the World Championships, in order to avoid a possible gold-medal bout against an Israeli opponent. And in 2018 FIFA examined claims of sexual and physical abuse by men from the country’s football federation..
Read the full article by Alexis Hearnden and Ian Brownhill on Sport Resolution’s website here.