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When President Donald Trump signed an executive order limiting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries that included Iran, the Iranian government stated it would be taking "proportionate legal action" and "reciprocal measures" toward the United States. The brunt of Iran's response is being felt in the wrestling community after the country banned American wrestlers on Friday from competing in the 2017 Freestyle World Cup in Kermanshah, Iran, on February 16-17.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said a special committee reviewed the case and, "Eventually the visit by the U.S. freestyle wrestling team was opposed." Ghasemi said the policy of the new U.S. administration left Iran no other choice but to ban the wrestlers. This comes after USA Wrestling announced Monday a team was still planning to travel to Iran for the World Cup.
BREAKING: Iran bans US wrestlers from taking part in Freestyle World Cup competition.— The Associated Press (@AP) February 3, 2017
United World Wrestling President Nenad Lalovic released the following statement:
Though we had hoped for a different outcome from Iran's Foreign Ministry, we appreciate the complex nature of this decision. We are currently working to find a solution for the Freestyle World Cup as soon as possible.
Despite the travel restrictions between their countries I've been encouraged this week by the cooperation and friendship of the Iranian Wrestling Federation and USA Wrestling. As we've seen over the years, wrestling is a sport that unites people and nations. United World Wrestling hosts a full calendar of events every season and we're certain to see American and Iranian wrestlers on the same mat again in the very near future.
USA Wrestling released a statement of their own:
USA Wrestling has seen the media reports that the Iranian Foreign Ministry plans to deny visas for the United States freestyle wrestling team to travel to Kermanshah, Iran to participate in the 2017 Freestyle World Cup, Feb. 16-17.
At this time, neither USA Wrestling nor United World Wrestling have been officially notified that these reports are accurate. We have no official documentation that the USA Wrestling team will be denied the opportunity to participate at the Freestyle World Cup.
The Freestyle World Cup is the annual World dual meet championship, one of the most important events that United World Wrestling hosts each year.
If these reports are true, USA Wrestling is extremely disappointed about this, which we believe would be an unacceptable situation. Wrestling is about competition and goodwill through sport, and is no place for politics
When or if USA Wrestling can confirm these reports officially, we may provide additional commentary.
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