Discrimination in sport continues to be ignored by the BBC

Back in November 2017 BBC audiences were told that an Iranian wrestler had been instructed to lose a match because Iran “does not accept” and “does not recognise” Israel. As was noted here at the time, ‘Newshour’ presenter Tim Franks brought up an ‘interesting’ way of avoiding such situations which – notably – did not involve the Iranians giving up their bigoted approach.

“Franks: “And in terms of the Iranian sort of…trying to avoid this sort of thing in the future, have they ever tried to make appeals to the people who run world sport to avoid embarrassing clashes…?”

In February 2018 the BBC revisited that topic, again telling audiences that “Iran does not recognise the state of Israel” and that “[d]ozens of Iranian athletes have boycotted competitions against Israeli competitors since the 1979 Islamic Revolution”.

In none of those reports were BBC audiences told of the religious ideology behind that refusal to “accept” Israel.

The BBC has also shown no interest in informing its audiences of the efforts made by the International Judo Federation to fight discrimination in sport. Those efforts have included communication with Iran ahead of the Judo World Championship next month.

“The IJF said in a letter to Iran that: “The international judo community witnessed several times a disturbing phenomenon, which involves the sudden “injury” or failure of weigh-in of Iranian athletes… [because of] the possible obligation of the given athletes to compete against certain countries.”

In the same letter, the federation set a March 15 deadline for the Iranian government to present to “The International Judo Federation… a governmental letter which guarantees that all athletes from Iran will compete in IJF competitions, regardless of the nationality of the athletes they oppose, and that they will participate in the medal ceremonies, regardless of the nationality of those who share the podium with them.”

The Iranian response to the letter was published by the IJF in March 11, where it claimed that it would, “fully respect the Olympic Charter and its non-discrimination principle.” The Islamic republic also said that they were negotiating with parliament to “identify the proper legal resolutions.”

However, a top Iranian sports official now appears to have reneged on that commitment to non-discrimination.

“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.”

Once again there is no sign of that story on either the BBC Sport Judo page or the BBC News website ‘Middle East’ page.

Related Articles:

More tepid BBC coverage of anti-Israel bigotry in sport

BBC muddies a story of anti-Israel bigotry in sport

No BBC coverage of sports anti-discrimination move

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

Advertisements

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

Readers may recall that in October 2017 the Israeli delegation to a judo competition held in Abu Dhabi was barred by the organisers from displaying the Israeli flag, competing under the name ‘Israel’ or playing the national anthem. However, as was noted here at the time:

“The BBC Sport website (which usually displays an interest in reporting bigotry and discrimination in sport) has no coverage of that story either on its home page or on its Judo page. The BBC News website’s Middle East page similarly did not find this story of blatant discrimination in sport newsworthy.”

Similarly, the BBC Sport website did not report on efforts made earlier this year by the International Judo Federation to bring an end to such discrimination.

Due to those efforts, the Israeli judo team is taking part in this year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Slam under happily different conditions.

“Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Friday to accompany Israel’s national judo team at an international tournament where — for the first time in a Gulf country — they will be allowed to compete under their national flag.

Regev is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony for the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2018 on Saturday, where the Israeli national anthem will also be played for the team. […]

Regev is the first Israeli minister to visit the UAE in an official capacity, as the countries have no official diplomatic relations.”

On October 28th (and again the next day) the Israeli national anthem was indeed heard in Abu Dhabi.

photo credit: IJF

“Israel’s national anthem was played at a judo tournament in Abu Dhabi on Sunday for the first time, after one of its athletes won gold.

A visibly moved Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, who was at the contest to support the Israeli team, presented the medals and hung the gold medallion around the neck of judoka Sagi Muki. […]

Muki beat Belgian competitor Matthias Casse to take first place in the under-81 kilogram category at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam.

Following the medal distribution, the tournament presenter announced, in English, “Ladies and gentleman, please rise for the national anthem of Israel” after which the “Hatikva” melody began playing. […]

It was…the first time an Israeli delegation participated there under its national flag, after the International Judo Federation warned UAE organizers the competition would be canceled unless all athletes were allowed to participate on an equal footing.”

Once again, however, no coverage of that story was to be found on the BBC Sport website home page or Judo page (even though a report about British competitors in the same tournament did appear) or on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

BBC Sport website Judo page, 29/10/18

Related Articles:

BBC News and BBC Sport ignore Judo tournament anti-Israel bigotry

No BBC coverage of sports anti-discrimination move