Iranian Greco-Roman wrestler defects serbia


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Iranian Greco-Roman national team wrestler Ali Arsalan has defected and will represent Serbia in future competitions, including the upcoming European Championship.

In addition to his many national titles, Arsalan has won four gold and two bronze medals in Asian tournaments during his career. He did not comment on the reasons for his defection.

Arsalan, who left the U23 World Wrestling Championships in Romania empty-handed in 2018, is expected to compete as a member of the Serbian national team in the 72 kilogram category.

The news of Arsalan’s defection comes just days after a member of the Iranian women’s handball team, Shaqayeq Bapiri, confirmed after a tournament in Spain that she split from the team and would not come back due to the rules imposed on the hijab in Iran and other restrictions. Last year the only Iranian woman Olympic medalist Kimia Alizadeh changed nationality.

About 30 Iranian athletes have defected in recent years, seeking asylum in other countries. Some competed in this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo as non-state athletes.

In addition to dress code restrictions, another issue forcing Iranian athletes to defect is Tehran’s policy of not allowing them to compete with the Israelis, as they did. for the Iranian Olympian judoka, and the 2018 world champion Saeid Mollaei.

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Robert J. King