Iranian swimmer refuses to race Israeli at Olympics

Monday, August 11, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

An Iranian swimmer dropped out of Saturday's 100 meter breaststroke race at the Beijing Olympics because an Israeli swimmer was competing in the same heat.

Reports indicated that the Iranian swimmer was forced to drop out of the race by the heads of the Iranian delegation to the Olympic Games. An official statement released later claimed that the swimmer had suddenly come down with an minor illness.

Olympic officials insisted that they would not punish the Iranian delegation.

Olympic Committee of Israel General Secretary Efraim Zinger told The Jerusalem Post that he is no longer surprised by such moves from Iran.

"Politics takes precedence over sport with the Iranians and the Olympic spirit is as far from them as east is far from west," said Zinger, who reminded the newspaper that during in the Athens Olympics in 2004 an Iranian athlete who was a gold medal favorite was forced to drop out after being drawn against and Israeli.

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