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Jewish group urges Iran be barred from Olympics

World Jewish Congress condemns Iranian swimmer's withdrawal from race with Israeli counterpart as "anti-Semitic"

AP and Ahram Online, Wednesday 27 Jul 2011
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A Jewish organization says Iran should be barred from taking part in the Olympics and other international sporting events until its athletes stop boycotting their Israeli counterparts.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) says the Iranian behavior is "unsportsmanlike and smacks of anti-Semitism."

British newspaper The Jewish Chronicle quoted WJC's Ronald Lauder as saying that "it is high time that a strong signal is sent to Iran".

"This kind of bigotry can and must be overcome, and Tehran must give clear undertakings that Iranian athletes do not shun their Israeli counterparts at sporting events," he added.

An Iranian swimmer pulled out of a race that included an Israeli at the world swimming championships in Shanghai this week, claiming he was "tired and drowsy."

The same swimmer pulled out of a race against an Israeli at the 2008 Olympics, claiming he was ill.

Iranian athletes have pulled out of events in similar circumstances in the past.

Iran's Islamic regime backs anti-Israel groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

Alirezaei maintained that he that he has "no problem" competing against Israeli athletes.

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