On Sunday, in an unusual display of goodwill between two adversarial nations, the Israeli coach of the Czech Republic’s national men’s basketball team shook hands with his Iranian counterpart, Mehran Shahintab, at the Olympics.
M. Jamshidi Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Ronen Ginzburg said to the Ynet news site, “I shook his hand before the game started, and at the end, we also talked a bit about basketball.”
An Israeli coach heading a squad against Iran is obviously unique, he told the news outlet before the game.
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Maybe this is also a Message to the Leaders in Iran, He Speculated.
Athletes from Iran have thrown matches in the past to avoid competing against Israelis. On Sunday, the Iranian Olympic basketball team played the Czech squad, which was coached by an Israeli. The Iranians lost, 84-78.
In the end, the Czech Republic prevailed 84-78 over Iran behind the efforts of Patrik Auda (16 points) and Blake Schilb (14 points). The Czech Republic’s 11th point was scored by Jan Vesely.
Iran (1-0), powered by Behnam Yakhchali’s 23 points, attempted a comeback from 22 points down late in the third quarter and 21 points down early in the fourth quarter. For Iran, Mohammad Jamshidi scored 16 points, and Hamed Haddadi added 15 points and 10 boards before fouling out.
Iran closed to within 80-76 on Jamshidi’s 3-pointer with 1:10 remaining, but Schilb scored on the following two Czech possessions to help seal the win.
With 5:39 left on the clock, Iran closed to within 69-61 after a 15-2 run to start the final period.
This was thanks to a three-point play from Yakhchali.
After leading by double digits for most of the game, the Czechs saw their lead cut to single digits in the fourth after missing nine of their first 10 shots from the field.
Both teams will be back in action on Wednesday, with Iran taking on the United States and the Czech Republic taking on France in Group A action.
Teams from Iran, Egypt, and other Middle Eastern countries have been fined for boycotting Israeli teams in the past.
After refusing to compete against an Israeli athlete on Saturday, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine and his coach Amar Benikhlef had their Olympic accreditation revoked and will be taken home.
Executive members of the International Judo Federation (IJF) declared that Nourine and Benikhlef had been placed on indefinite suspension. The Algerian Olympic Committee cut ties as a result, and more punishment is likely.
As a result of Iran’s requests that its athletes avoid competing against Israeli opponents, the International Judo Federation banned Iran for four years in April.
After judoka Saeid Mollaei said he had been forced to lose matches and depart from contests to avoid confronting Israelis, the Iranian government issued a suspension retroactive to September 2019, when he left the Iranian team during the World Championship in Tokyo.
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Hours after refusing to shake the hand of his triumphant Israeli adversary Or Sasson in the first round of the men’s over-100kg category at the Rio Olympics in 2016, Egyptian judoka Islam El Shahaby announced his retirement.