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“A freethinking athlete does not allow him/herself to acknowledge Zionist regime for the sake of a medal”

On September 11, 2021, Imam Khamenei met with the Iranian Olympic and Paralympic medalists at the 2020 Tokyo Games. This meeting was held in accordance with health protocols in the Imam Khomeini Hussainiyyah.

Following the recent victories of Iranian athletes in international competitions, the medal winners from the Islamic Republic of Iran’s teams in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games met with Imam Khamenei Saturday morning, September 18, 2021. This meeting was held in accordance with health protocols in the Imam Khomeini Hussainiyyah.

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution expressed his sincere gratitude to the country’s champions and said, “The most important message of the championship of the country’s proud athletes in international fields is in showing the possibility of accomplishing unimaginable deeds and in conveying the message of persistence, hope and exuberance to society and the youth.”

Imam Khamenei said that this message is very important for society and added, “While many organizations are busy planning in order to deprive society and especially the youth of hope and exuberance, the victories of the Iranian athletes inject the message of hope into the whole of society and this is very valuable.”

Referring to his short messages of gratitude after the athletes’ victories, Imam Khamenei noted, “You should know that these messages were issued from the bottom of my heart and I know the value and importance of your endeavors.”

In referring to the victories of the Iranian athletes despite certain restrictions, he stated, “Despite these restrictions, the flag of the country is being raised and the winners podium in international competitions is being taken, this is a sign of strong willpower and determination. And this determination, willpower, championship and hope are present not only in sports but also in science, technology, art and literature. One of the officials’ important duties is openly showing these achievements.”

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution went on to point out examples of ways of becoming a champion and a medalist in unhealthy ways in the world of sports. He explained, “In addition to unfair refereeing, bribery, political scheming and the use of illegal drugs, and winning a medal by betraying one’s country and one’s values are also examples of unhealthy ways of becoming a champion.”

Imam Khamenei described the manifestation of human, religious and spiritual values ​​along with winning medals as being very valuable. He spoke of examples of such cases in the Olympic and Paralympic competitions. Furthermore, he said, “Naming our sports teams after martyrs, especially Martyr Soleimani, gifting medals to special martyrs, using a Basiji scarf as a symbol of self-sacrifice and resistance and prostrating on it, wearing the Islamic covering (hijab), especially the raising of the national flag by women wearing the chador, expressing love and affection for the flag, the scenes of praying, embracing the defeated opponent and the scene of the Paralympic volleyball team honoring the mother of Martyr Babaee are all manifestations of Islamic values ​​and symbols of the Iranian identity.”

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution emphasized, “Iranian female athletes have proven in these competitions that Islamic covering (hijab) is not an obstacle preventing one from shining in sports fields. Similarly, women have previously proven this in the fields of politics, science and management.”

The Leader stressed, “The Iranian women athletes’ hijab has prepared the ground for female athletes in Islamic countries so much so that now women athletes from more than 10 other Islamic countries participate in athletic events while wearing hijab.”

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution referred to the issue of the non-recognition of the criminal Zionist regime in sports fields as being a very important issue. He stated, “The ruthless, genocidal, illegitimate Zionist regime is trying to gain legitimacy by participating in international sports arenas. And the Arrogant Powers in the world are helping them. However, the honorable sports officials and athletes should not be passive in this area at all.”

In speaking of the reciprocal actions of the Zionist regime and its supporters in working to disqualify athletes, Imam Khamenei stressed, “The Ministry of Sports, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and legal organizations should pursue this issue through legal means. They should support the athletes of the country and even the Muslim athletes of other countries, such as the Algerian athlete who was recently disqualified.”

Imam Khamenei emphasized that an honorable Iranian athlete cannot shake hands with a representative of the criminal regime for a mere medal and recognize that regime by doing so, “This issue is not unprecedented. In the past, athletes from other countries refused to compete with the representatives of the apartheid regime in South Africa. After a while, that regime collapsed, and the Zionist regime will be destroyed too.”

Imam Khamenei had some recommendations for the sports officials as well.

Improving the quality of international sports and concentrating on sending athletes in medal-winning fields of sport, planning in order to improve Iran’s ranking in the Olympics,  showing appreciation for an Iranian brand of clothing used in the Olympics and supporting domestic sports equipment manufacturers, paying more attention to original Iranian sports such as chowgan [wicket] and using this opportunity to attract foreign tourists, using Iranian coaches as much as possible, seriously addressing the difficulties in livelihood and the professional problems of the champions, and promoting fairness in sports were some of the recommendations of the Leader to the sports officials of the country.

Before the statements of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Mr. Sajjadi, the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, reported on the Iranian teams sent to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the medals won and Iran’s status in these competitions.

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