World Games: Iran karate denied U.S. visas over alleged ties to terror groups

An Iranian judo player at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/JNS.

by Larry Brook

(Israel InSight) — Iran’s karate team will not be competing in the World Games in Birmingham after the United States refused their visa applications, according to Fox News, which reported on an article in the Iranian Student News Agency, which is controlled by the Iranian government.

The team has “direct links” to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, as it supports and supplies numerous jihadist terror organizations around the world.

Iranian terror-linked organizations are responsible for over 600 American military deaths in the Middle East, Fox News reported, and quoted Beverly Wolfer, sister of Maj. Stuart Adam Wolfer, who was killed in Iraq in 2008 by an Iranian-backed terror cell. “Allowing Iranian sports teams to compete in the U.S. legitimizes a terrorist regime by flying its flag and playing its anthem on American soil. Ignoring their chants of ‘Death to America,’ signing a nuclear deal which immunizes the IRGC for damages stemming from their terrorist acts, and enabling their athletes to compete on U.S. soil are slaps in the face to America’s Gold Star Families,” she said.

They reported that the karate team members’ links with the IRGC were first revealed by Sardar Pashaei, an Iranian-American who used to coach the Iranian national Greco-Roman wrestling team. He told Fox News Digital “In Iran, they are saying, ‘Death to America and Israel,’ but at the same time they are applying for American visas.”

The head of the karate team, Zabihullah Poursheib, told ISNA that this was American “revenge” and injecting political issues into sports.

Iran has a long history of throwing competitions or simply withdrawing rather than run the risk of facing an Israeli athlete, and some international sports groups have sanctioned Iran for being unwilling to compete. Iran has been working on developing a nuclear bomb and routinely threatens to eradicate Israel with it. Iran also fights Israel through proxy wars by Hamas and Hezbollah, and Israel has been working to ensure that Iran does not get a military foothold in Syria.

As an example, an Iranian athlete withdrew his participation in an international jiu-jitsu competition in the United Arab Emirates to avoid facing an opponent from Israel, Iran’s Press TV reported.

Hamid Amraei was originally scheduled to go head-to-head against a competitor from Brazil in the men’s 77-kilogram weight class in the AJP Tour Fujairah International Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championship, which took place in the UAE from July 2 to 3. However, officials changed the draw, and he was matched to go against an Israeli competitor.

In protest of the decision, Amraei decided to pull out of the international tournament to avoid competing against the Israeli athlete, according to Press TV.

Earlier this year, Iranian Wrestling Federation head Alireza Dabir and others were denied U.S. visas for a competition in Texas. Dabir has called for the violent destruction of America and praises General Qassem Soleimani, who was the head of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force and a major coordinator of regional terror efforts until he was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq in 2020.

Pashaei said Karate Federation head Seyyad Hassan Tabatabaei called Soleimani the “shining sun of karate,” and Tabatabaei calls himself a member of the Basij and wants to see more involvement by athletes in the Basij.

The Basij is a paramilitary group used by the Khamenei regime to suppress dissent and protest in Iran.

(With JNS reports regarding the jiu-jitsu competition)