The International Olympic Committee is being urged to expel Iran from the Tokyo Games after the Greco-Roman wrestler, Navid Afkari, was executed.
Afkari was accused of stabbing to death a security guard during anti-government protests in Shiraz in 2018, but has since insisted that he only made a confession after being tortured.
“The evidence is there if the court wants to investigate [the acts of torture],” Afkari said in a tape obtained by an Iranian human rights group. “There is not one shred of evidence….that shows I’m guilty. But they don’t want to listen to us. I realised they are looking for a neck for their rope.”
Afkari was charged with murder, along with “waging war against the state”, for participating in the demonstrations. Iranian state media broadcast Afkari’s confession last week after Donald Trump, the United States president, called for him to be spared. Iran’s judiciary has denied Afkari’s torture claims.
The Islamic Republic News Agency reported Afkari’s death on Saturday, saying that “legal procedures were carried out at the insistence of the parents and the family of the victim”.
The World Players Association (WPA), which represents 85,000 athletes globally, called for Iran’s expulsion from world sport.
“The horrific act of executing an athlete can only be regarded as a repudiation of the humanitarian values that underpin sport,” said a spokesperson. "It must result in Iran forfeiting its right to be a part of sport's universal community.” Global Athlete, which also represents athletes, echoed that call for sporting sanctions.
“We call on athlete solidarity to demand that the International Olympic Committee and United World Wrestling immediately implement sanctions that expel Iran from world sport,” said a statement. “This government no longer deserves the privilege of competing in international sport.”
The IOC said that it was “shocked” by the “very sad” news and said that IOC president Thomas Bach had personally made direct appeals “for mercy”. There was, however, no mention of any action against Iran. “It is deeply upsetting that the pleas of athletes from around the world and all the behind-the-scenes work of the IOC, together with the NOC of Iran, United World Wrestling and the National Iranian Wrestling Federation, did not achieve our goal,” said an IOC statement.