BBC Sport reports the outcome of a story it ignored last month

BBC Sport did not show much interest in the Judo World Championships which took place in Tokyo between August 25th and 31st. During that period of time visitors to the BBC Sport website’s Judo page saw just two reports (see here and here), both of which concerned a Scottish Judoka.  

However, on September 2nd a report on a five day-old story titled “Saeid Mollaei: Iranian judoka fears for safety after refusing to quit World Championships” was published on that page as well as on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page. Readers were told that:

“Iran’s Saeid Mollaei says he fears for his and his family’s safety after ignoring calls from Iranian authorities to pull out of the World Judo Championships in Japan.

Mollaei said he was told to withdraw from his match against Russia’s Olympic champion Khasan Khalmurzaev to avoid the prospect of facing Israel’s Sagi Muki later in the tournament.”

Only in the tenth paragraph were readers informed that “Muki later beat Casse to win the gold medal” but they heard nothing of an earlier incident involving an Egyptian competitor.

The BBC’s report gave a distinctly tepid portrayal of the pressures put on Mollaei. In addition to citing “calls from Iranian authorities to pull out”, the report told readers that Mollaei said:

“But the National Olympic Committee of Iran and the Sport Minister told me to not compete, that I had to comply with the law.”

Only those readers who bothered to click on a link to the International Judo Federation website would learn that considerably more underhand tactics were employed by the Iranian authorities.

“Mollaei’s next fight was against the Olympic champion, Russian Khasan Khalmurzaev. A few minutes prior to the contest, the Iranian coach received a call from his country. On the other side of the line, the Iranian first deputy minister of sport, Davar Zani, gave him the order to withdraw Mollaei from the competition to avoid a potential contest between Iran and Israel. A demand accompanied by a double threat against Mollaei and his family. […]

…a delegation from the Iranian Embassy came to the venue. One delegate illegally, by means of the Iranian coaches accreditation, trespassed into the athlete warm up area to approach him with messages of intimidation.

Just prior to the semi-final, Mollaei’s coach received another phone call, this time from the Iranian Olympic Committee President, Reza Salehi Amiri. He put the phone on speaker and video, so the World Champion could follow the conversation.

The NOC President explained that National Security were at his parent’s house. Mollaei’s friends from Iran also texted him that people came to his house and asked his father to tell his son to follow the law or he would have problems.”

Apparently the BBC did not consider that information newsworthy. Linking to the IJF website, the BBC Sport report went on:

“Earlier in 2019, the National Olympic Committee of Iran had said it would comply with the Olympic charter and statutes of the International Judo Federation (IJF), paving the way for Iranian athletes to compete against Israeli athletes.”

However, as noted here when the BBC ignored the story last month, a top Iranian sports official reneged on that commitment made in May.

“President of the Iran National Olympic Committee Syed Reza Salehi Amiri said that Iranian athletes will not compete against Israeli athletes, despite Iran claiming in a letter addressed to the International Judo Federation (IJF) that things might change.

The Judo World Championship will take place at the end of August, where the most anticipated encounter will be between Iranian Saeid Mollaei, who is ranked No. 1 in the 81 kg. weight group, and second ranked Israeli Sagi Muki. […]

“Refraining from participating in competitions with athletes of the Zionist regime is an issue of the Muslim world, and athletes from 20 countries refrain from doing so. I said that we are acting within the framework of the Iranian regime’s policy – and for this reason, we are not competing with athletes of the Zionist regime,” Amiri said.”

Had the BBC covered that story at the time it may have been better placed to report on the predictable pressures put on Mollaei during the championship as well as subsequent events unmentioned in this report.  

Related Articles:

Discrimination in sport continues to be ignored by the BBC

Sporting body’s anti-discrimination results get no BBC coverage

BBC muddies a story of anti-Israel bigotry in sport

More tepid BBC coverage of anti-Israel bigotry in sport







5 comments on “BBC Sport reports the outcome of a story it ignored last month

  1. The BBC continue their policy of kitmān when the truth does not dovetail with their Islamist pro-Iranian narrative.

  2. Pingback: 09/03 Links Pt2: Daily Mail distributes a million maps listing Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital; Paul Robeson’s Unapologetic Stalinism and the Fate of Soviet Jewry; AOC pans Israel’s ‘inhumane policies,’ insists she isn’t anti-Semitic – 24/6

  3. Matthew Continetti [editor-in-chief of
    The Washington Free Beacon] said:

    “Throw a dart, and it will land on a publication or media company whose feelings toward Israel are, in a word, bellicose.

    The Independent, the Guardian, the Economist, the BBC, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, Vox, NPR, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, Time, Newsweek, the Lancet — they all portray Israel as rapacious and the Palestinians as helpless victims of Jewish sadism.

    Their fixation on Israel becomes a fixation on Jews that creates a noxious climate of opinion, breeding conspiracy theories, accusations of dual loyalties, intimidation, even violence.”

    SOURCE: Where Do New York Times Editors Think
    Anti-Semitism Comes From? The Sky?
    , 2014 Nov 3

  4. Caroline Glick said:

    “The [New York] Times’ willingness to disseminate
    pro-Hezbollah propaganda may have represented
    a new low in its advocacy for terror groups.

    But arguably, the [New York] Times’ decision
    to champion the most powerful non-state actor
    in the world — with one of the world’s largest
    missile arsenals, all pointing at Israel —
    is not the worst aspect of its coverage.”

    “What may be worse is the [New York] Times’
    campaign to effectively disenfranchise American Jews.

    The paper undertakes this campaign by using
    its pages to legitimize anti-Semitism emanating
    from the Left, delegitimize friends of Jews
    on the political Right, and shame American Jews
    who stubbornly refuse to abandon Israel,
    or turn their back on Israel’s friends.

    These American Jews also impertinently notice
    the galloping Jew hatred on the political Left.”

    “This move by the [New York] Times is more
    dangerous because it is more difficult to criticize.
    It is easy to spot apologetics for terrorism.
    It is harder, and more controversial, to call
    the [New York] Times out for manipulating
    American Jews in the service of Left-wing anti-Semites.”

    SOURCE: The New York Times’ war
    against Israel and the Jews who support it
    Caroline Glick, 01/13/2019

  5. Had a fan in the stands shouted that Muki should withdraw to not compete against a Muslim, the BBC probably would have run the story as “Israeli apartheid.”

Comments are closed.