Mollaei at the 2018 Asian Games
|Nationality|| Iran (till 2019)|
Mongolia (since 2019)
|Born||5 January 1992|
|Height||175 cm (5 ft 9 in)|
|Weight||81 kg (179 lb)|
|Coached by||Nusratkhon Valiev|
Saeid Mollaei (Persian: سعید ملایی; born 5 January 1992) is an Iranian-born Mongolian judoka Olympian and 2018 world champion. Iranian authorities ordered Mollaei to intentionally lose in the semi-final at the Tokyo 2019 World Championships, so as to avoid a potential match in the finals against Israeli 2019 world champion Sagi Muki. In reaction, saying he was afraid to return to Iran after exposing and criticizing its pressure on him to deliberately lose in the World Championships, in August 2019 he moved to Europe with a two-year visa from Germany, and in December 2019 he became a citizen of Mongolia.
Mollaei won bronze medals at the 2015 and 2016 Asian Championships, and a silver medal at the 2017 edition. He was a bronze medalist at the Budapest 2017 World Championships, and a 2018 Baku World Championships gold medalist.
Iranian authorities, the Iranian Sports Minister and the presidents of the Iran Judo Federation and the Iran Olympic Committee, ordered Mollaei to intentionally lose in the semi-final at the Tokyo 2019 World Championships, so as to avoid a potential match in the finals against Israeli 2019 world champion Sagi Muki.
In reaction, saying he was afraid to return to Iran after exposing and criticizing its pressure on him to deliberately lose in the World Championships to avoid a potential bout against Muki, in August 2019 he moved to Europe with a two-year visa from Germany.
Iran's actions led the International Judo Federation (IJF) to indefinitely ban Iran from competition. The IJF disciplinary commission examining the case found that Iran’s actions "constitute a serious breach and gross violation of the Statutes of the IJF, its legitimate interests, its principles and objectives." The ban will last until "the Iran Judo Federation give strong guarantees and prove that they will respect the IJF Statutes and accept that their athletes fight against Israeli athletes."
On 1 November 2019 Germany agreed to grant Mollaei asylum. That month, he competed as part of the IJF refugee team at the Osaka Grand Slam. Muki congratulated Mollaei on Instagram for returning to judo and participating in Osaka in his first competition since the World Championships in Tokyo, and Mollaei, in turn, thanked Muki for his support and wrote: "Good luck to you all the time, my best friend." Mollaei also posted a photo of them standing together, and wrote: "This is true friendship and a win for sports and judo over politics."
On November 16, 2019, he was received the Crans Montana Forum gold medal from Ambassador Jean-Paul Carteron for the difficult decision he took in Japan. The mission of the Crans Montana Forum is "Towards a more Humane World". In accepting the award, Mollaei said: "We must try to make a better world. A peaceful world, more equal, more friendly, and more fair."
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- Saeid Mollaei. london2012.com
- IJF profile
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- "داستان ناکامی سعید ملایی و اولین طلای جودوی مردان جهان برای اسرائیل" (in Persian).
- "Judo star left fearing for safety after defying orders from Iran". The Guardian.
- "The true story of a fight for life". International Judo Federation.
- "News - Germany grants refugee status Saeid Mollaei". JudoInside. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
- "فدراسیون بینالمللی جودو: آلمان با پناهندگی سعید ملایی موافقت کرد". BBC Persian (in Persian). 2 November 2019. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
- Einhorn, Alon (4 December 2019). "Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei will compete in Israel next month – report". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
- "News - Saeid Mollaei awarded for courage". JudoInside. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
- "News - Saeid Mollaei gets Mongolian passport". JudoInside. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saeid Mollaei.|
- Saeid Mollaei at JudoInside.com