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Iran sporting chief wrestles for US world cup visas Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Iran sporting chief wrestles for US world cup visas

USA's Reece Humphrey wrestles Iran's Masoud Jouybari in New York in 2013 [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 February, 2017

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Rasoul Khadem has written to Iran's Minister for Sport, arguing that Iran should 'show its good will' and give the US team visas to attend the Freestyle Wrestling World Cup.

The president of the Iranian wrestling federation has lobbied his government to give visas to the US wrestling team so they can participate in the Freestyle Wrestling World Cup.

Rasoul Khadem wrote to Iran's minister for sport, Masoud Soltanifar, arguing that the quality of the tournament would be greatly improved by the US team's presence.

"This will show Iran's good-will and promote our views on sports diplomacy in the eyes of the world," Khadem wrote.

The US team was banned by Iranian officials in response to President Donald Trump's executive order, barring immigration and entry to residents from seven Muslim-majority countries.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran... has decided to respond in kind after the insulting decision of the United States concerning Iranian nationals," Iran's foreign ministry said in a statement.

USA Wrestling said on Friday that it was "extremely disappointed" in what it termed an "unacceptable situation."

"We don't think politics (should) have any role in this. But, unfortunately, sometimes you can't control that," USA Wrestling executive director Rich Bender said.

Four-time world champion US wrestler, Jordan Burroughs, called the situation a "bummer", adding that it was a shame the Muslim ban had affected him so personally.

"Like, you always feel like 'Well, the presidency or these strict laws or these Muslim bans or whatever you like to call them, they'll never affect me,'" he said.

"This is one of the few times where something so personal has occurred. Almost like it (was) handed down from the president to us. It's a bummer."

The Freestyle Wrestling World Cup is one of the sport's most important events and will be held on 16 and 17 February in Kermanshah, western Iran.

Wrestling is of great cultural importance in Iran and is sometimes referred to as its national sport.

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