Arash Miresmaeili

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Arash Miresmaeili
Personal information
Born (1981-03-03) 3 March 1981 (age 41)
Weight class–66 kg
Achievements and titles
World Champ.Gold (2001, 2003)
Asian Champ.Gold (1999, 2001, 2008)
Olympic Games5th (2000)
Profile at external databases
Updated on 28 April 2022.

Arash Miresmaeili (Persian: آرش میراسماعیلی, born March 3, 1981 in Khorramabad) is an Iranian judoka. He now serves as the President of the Iranian Judo Federation.[1]

World Judo Championships[edit]

He won the gold medal in two World Judo Championships, the first one in 2001 in Munich, Germany, and the second in 2003 in Osaka, Japan. He also won bronze medal in the 2005 World Judo Championships in Cairo, Egypt and 2007 World Judo Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[citation needed]

Athens Olympic Games; controversy[edit]

Arash Miresmaili was the favourite for the gold medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics, where he was the flag bearer for Iran at the opening ceremonies.

Slated to fight Israeli judoka competitor Ehud Vaks in the first round, Miresmaili was disqualified from competing because he was above the permissible weight limit for his class. He was more than two kilos - four pounds - over the 66-kilogram weight limit.[2] It was claimed that Miresmaili deliberately set out to be disqualified, rather than compete against an Israeli, which was understood from Miresmaili's own comments: "Although I have trained for months and was in good shape I refused to fight my Israeli opponent to sympathise with the suffering of the people of Palestine and I do not feel upset at all."[3]

Judo officials questioned how such an experienced two-time world champion competitor could have made such a basic error.[4]

There was precedent for Miresmaeili's actions, in the sport of judo. At the 2001 World Judo Championships, Iranian Mahed Malekmohammdi refused to face Israeli judoka Yoel Razvozov.[5] Similarly, Iranian judoka Masoud Haji Akhoundzade pulled out of a bout against Israeli lightweight Zvi Shafran.[5]

An Iran National Olympic Committee spokesman said it was Iran's "general policy" to avoid competing against Israeli athletes, and that Miresmaeili had just followed Iran's protocol.[6] Comments from Iranian officials and politicians supported this understanding. The Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted then Iranian President Mohammad Khatami as saying that Miresmaeili's actions would be "recorded in the history of Iranian glories," and that the nation considered him to be "the champion of the 2004 Olympic Games." Iranian Olympic team chairman Nassrollah Sajadi told the Shargh newspaper that the government should give the athlete $115,000 for his action, the amount the Iranian government awards gold medal winning athletes.[7] Then-mayor of Tehran and former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that though Miresmaeili "did not get a gold medal, he earned eternal honor by his refusal".[8] Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, the speaker of Iran's parliament, congratulated Miresmaeili, calling his refusal to compete a "brave decision," and saying that "Your disqualification because of supporting Palestine would promote your position in the heart of Muslims."[9][10]

Vaks said "I don't think they (Iran) have the right not to acknowledge us. Israel is a democracy, and Iran isn't. But sport is linked to politics... Maybe the next Olympics will be better."[11]

On August 18, 2004, the International Judo Federation (IJF), which had set up a commission to investigate whether Miresmaeili deliberately missed weight so he would not have to face Vaks, concluded he had no intention to avoid competing against an Israeli. After a hearing which included the president of Iran's judo federation, the commission concluded that Miresmaeili said he had no pre-planned intentions for not competing and that "he made no statement of any sort to any press," according to an IJF statement. The only issue that remained was that Miresmaeili was overweight on the weigh-in day, the IJF said, and as it has no rule for penalizing overweight athletes, it decided not to take any action against him.[9]

On September 8, 2004, Iran's official press agency announced the government had given Miresmaili $125,000, the same amount awarded to Iran's two Athens gold medalists.[12]

Denial of entry to election of Iran's Judo Federation[edit]

In the summer of 2009, prior to the controversial Iranian presidential elections, Miresmaeili chose to support the candidacy of Mohsen Rezaee, one of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rivals.

Rezaei appointed Miresmaeili as his campaign chief for Sports Committee. After being appointed, during a press conference, Miresmaeili stated that if Rezaee were elected as president, there would be no more place for Iranian sports officials who have been appointed for political purposes, as opposed to their knowledge and capabilities. His backing of Rezaee and his remarks did not sit well with the conservative backers of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the Iranian Sports Federation and elsewhere. They also drew immediate and harsh condemnation from the former Chief of Iran's Sports Federation, Mohammed Aliabadi.

Since then, the effort to punish and sideline Miresmaeili went as far as denying him entry to an election event of Iran's Judo Federation held on Jan 2, 2009. Miresmaeili tried very hard to gain entry into the event, and was denied entry by the security guards. This angered Miresmaeili to the point where he called a press conference that day, during which he stated that he was very sorry for sports in Iran and that he was officially done with the Iranian Judo, but that they could not kill his love for Judo.[13]

As the President of the Iranian Judo Federation[edit]

In 2019, Miresmaili was elected as the President of the Iranian Judo Federation for a four-year term by receiving 32 votes out of 43 votes.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Arash Miresmaeili elected as President of Iranian Judo Federation". Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  2. ^ Wallechinsky, David; Loucky, Jaime (7 June 2012). The Book of Olympic Lists. Aurum Press. ISBN 9781781310816 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "The Statesman". Archived from the original on 2005-03-28.
  4. ^ Chesterton, George (15 August 2004). "Iran face sanction for Israel boycott" – via The Guardian.
  5. ^ a b "OLYMPICS: NOTEBOOK; Iranian Judo Champion Refuses to Face Israeli". The New York Times. 14 August 2004.
  6. ^ "BBC NEWS - World - Europe - Mystery over Iran judo 'protest'". 15 August 2004.
  7. ^ "Judoka Praised by Iranian Government (".
  8. ^ " - Iranian judo competitor rewarded after failing to compete against Israeli".
  9. ^ a b "London 2012 Olympics - Athletes, Videos | Results & Schedules - CTV". Retrieved 2012-07-22.
  10. ^ ".:Middle East Online:::".
  11. ^ "DQ'd Iranian averts match with Israeli".
  12. ^ "Olympics on Yahoo! Sports - News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games".
  13. ^ مهدی رستم‌پور روزنامه نگار ورزشی (1970-01-01). "BBC فارسی - ورزش - آرش میر اسماعیلی: ستاره‌های ورزش را نابود می‌کنند". Retrieved 2012-07-22.
  14. ^ "Arash Miresmaeili elected as President of Iranian Judo Federation".

External links[edit]

Olympic Games
Preceded by Flagbearer for  Iran
Athens 2004
Succeeded by