(TruthandLiberty.com) – Athletes in Iran are sometimes used as political pawns to make a point. Popular Iranian powerlifter Amir Assadollahzadeh has competed for 18 years. In 11 of them, he lifted competitively for the Iranian national team, where he earned four Asian Championship titles. In 2021, threats from officials compelled the powerlifter to abandon his team and seek asylum. The reason may shock you.
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Assadollahzadeh hails from the same town as assassinated Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander, Qasem Soleimani. Recently, the Iranian regime wanted the powerlifter to dedicate his most recent medal to the Soleimani, whom some prop up as a hero. Instead, Assadollahzadeh dedicated it to Iranian healthcare workers on the front lines combating the pandemic.
The choice didn’t sit well with senior sports officials, who told Assadollahzadeh he could redeem himself by wearing a T-Shirt with the terrorist’s face embroidered on it for the November International Powerlifting Federation World Championships in Norway. Once again, the powerlifter refused. That’s when the threats began.
Assadollahzadeh is now seeking asylum in Norway after fearing for his life. Iran has a history of punishing athletes who don’t comply with their political wishes. In 2018, water polo player Amir Dehdari was arrested and brutally beaten for refusing to meet with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. In October, an Iranian boxer disappeared after a video appeared showing him with Israeli athletes.
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