Global Athlete has demanded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and United World Wrestling (UWW) expel Iran following the execution of wrestling champion Navid Afkari.
Iranian state media reported that Afkari was executed yesterday, despite the case attracting global attention and leading to the likes of United States President Donald Trump pleading for clemency.
The 27-year-old had been given two death sentences for allegedly stabbing a security guard to death and his involvement in demonstrations against the country’s regime in 2018.
Afkari had claimed he was tortured into making a false confession and human rights groups and activists believe he was unjustly targeted by the Iranian authorities to intimidate others who might choose to participate in peaceful protests.
The IOC and UWW claimed they were in “constant contact” with the Iranian National Olympic Committee and the Iranian Wrestling Federation to “facilitate a solution”, but were ultimately unsuccessful.
Since the execution, the IOC and UWW described the news as “very sad” and “devastating”, but Global Athlete has urged the organisations to take further action.
“The Global Athlete extends our sincere condolences to Navid Afkari’s family and friends,” a statement said.
“The Iranian Government took the life of an innocent human, an athlete, and a wrestler.
“Our thoughts are also with Navid’s two brothers who are still incarcerated in inhumane conditions.
“We call on athlete solidarity to demand that the International Olympic Committee and United World Wrestling immediately implement sanctions that expel Iran from world sport for this heinous execution.
“The actions of the Iranian Government are a clear breach of human rights; such acts cannot go unpunished.
“For executing an athlete, this Government no longer deserves the privilege of competing in international sport.”
Other athlete representation groups, including the World Players Association (WPA), which had urged the IOC to use its influence to stop the execution, have also commented.
“The shocking injustice of Navid’s case sparked a global outpouring of support by courageous champions of human rights in sport – but tragically the Iranian regime still took his life,” said WPA executive director Brendan Schwab.
“Navid was targeted because of his success and popularity as an athlete, and this brutality was held up as an example to terrorise the public and silence dissent.
“We must now unite in his memory to ensure that others do not suffer this fate.”
World Olympians Association (WOA) President Joël Bouzou expressed “profound shock and sadness”.
“WOA stood with the IOC and President Thomas Bach OLY in their appeals for mercy and are gravely upset that their combined efforts were not successful,” he said.
“Navid’s dream to become an Olympian was cruelly ended, but this terrible time makes us even more motivated to build up athletes and Olympians as role models within society.
“They possess the power to transcend sport to promote diversity, tolerance and positive values that make a difference everywhere.”
The UWW Executive Committee is expected to meet tomorrow and may provide an update on the situation.
Bobby Green, a lightweight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, cut short a post-fight interview after learning of Afkari’s execution, saying it “broke his heart”.