Issue of U.S. and Iran wrestling diplomacy still at stake?
WANA (DEC 12) – Last night, the top two teams in the world in men’s freestyle the United States and Iran made the finals of the World Cup and the U.S. beat Iran 6-4 and won the title of the champion of the tournament.
The competitions were held in Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa and Iran became runner-up in the cup.
Prior to the tournament, the issue of providing visa for Iranian wrestlers turned into a controversy and the participation of Iranian wrestlers in this competition was already in an aura of uncertainty, since earlier in February the United States had denied visas for five members of the Iranian team, including the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran Wrestling Federation Ali-Reza Dabir.
In response to this action taken by the U.S. officials, earlier in late October, the spokesman for the Islamic Republic of Iran Wrestling Federation Mohammad- Ebrahim Emami said if visas are not issued for the entire members of the Iranian National freestyle wrestling team, they will withdraw from participation at Men’s Freestyle Wrestling 2022 World Cup.
Emami further said that the U.S. had done the same to the Iranian wrestlers in the earlier edition of the tournament.
Referring to the importance of the upcoming sport event in the U.S. and the aftermaths of the absence of Iranian wrestlers in the tournament, Emami said:
United World Wrestling [the international governing body for the sport of amateur wrestling] has already announced the participating countries that absence would lead to limits for later participation at the intercontinental competitions and the world championships next year, which will be qualifying tournaments for Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The United States finally issued Results for Iranian freestyle wrestlers to participate at World Wrestling Championships which had been scheduled for December 10-11.
The history of rivalry between Iran and the United States, both top players in the matches of the World Wrestling Championships dates back to several decades ago. However, in the aftermath of the Iranian revolution in 1978 And the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran state, the ties between the two countries were strained and the Wrestling matches between the athletics of the two countries bore strong political undertones.
In the meantime, some special wrestling events have been particularly significant and have led the matches to turn into an instrument for diplomacy which is called “wrestling diplomacy”.
The year 1998 marked a turning point in the history of such exchanges when a team of U.S. wrestlers was among the first athletes of their country who visited Iran after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The significance of the event was to an extent that Returning to the U.S., the wrestlers were invited to the White House and were welcomed by the then-America President Bill Clinton.
On Jan. 27. 2017, when the U.S. President Donald Trump President signed an Executive Order that banned foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries including Iran from visiting the U.S. the Islamic Republic’s officials promised retaliation. Therefore, just weeks before the championships began; the U.S. team became unable to participate.
However, the situation changed dramatically when the courts annulled Trump’s visa ban and the Iranian officials rapidly decided to provide visas for the U.S. team. The then Iran’s Sports and Youth Minister Masoud Soltanifar said: “Respecting the requests by American athletes and people, we decided to issue visas for the U.S. team.”
Wrestling in Iran is not simply an ordinary sport, but a traditional popular one which has been practiced since ancient times and even has mythical implications rooted in folktales and legends. It has also been a source of national pride due to the successive victories of Iranian wrestlers in the world scene achieved over the course of time.
So, it can obviously play a role in the world scene of politics as “wrestling diplomacy” bring the country closer to the others and even prepare the ground for talks on issues Dispute with other countries above them the United States, the main rival on the mat, even in the situations which it seems less probable.