By Victor Kanayo
A weightlifter from Iran, Mostafa Rajaei, is in trouble after he shook hands with an Israeli opponent, Maksim Svirsky.
Specifically, the Iranian has been handed a lifetime ban by authorities in the Islamic republic.
The 40-year-old Rajaei shook hands with Israeli weightlifter on Saturday after they both stood on the podium at a World Masters championship in Wieliczka, Poland.
The two were at a non-professional competition for “legends” of weightlifting in Wieliczka, Poland.
Rajai had previously represented Iran at the 2015 Asian Weightlifting Championships in Thailand and is a former member of the Iranian national team.
State news agency Irna reported that he had “crossed the red lines of the Islamic republic”.
Iran’s weightlifting federation also fired the head of the team at the contest, Hamid Salehinia, as a result of the incident.
Rajaei is a former member of the Iranian national team and represented his country at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in 2015 in Thailand.
In 2021, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged athletes “not to shake hands with a representative of the (Israeli) criminal regime to obtain a medal”.
For years, Iranian athletes have managed to avoid meeting Israelis in competitions, often by getting disqualified or providing medical certificates testifying that they were unwell.
Young chess prodigy Alireza Firouzja left Iran after the sport’s federation banned him from playing in the 2019 world championship for fear he would face an Israeli player.
He is now a naturalised French citizen.