Israel: Iran forced its Judoka to throw semifinal to avoid facing Sagi Muki (Israeli)



Israel says Iran forced its judoka to throw semifinal to avoid facing Sagi Muki

Local judo chief Moshe Fonti says Saeid Mollaei intended to compete to the end even if it meant squaring off against Israeli, but then Iranian agents arrived at his family home

Saeid Mollaei in 2018 (YouTube screenshot)

Saeid Mollaei in 2018 (YouTube screenshot)

The chairman of the Israel Judo Association said Thursday that Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei was coerced into throwing his semifinal battle against Belgium’s Matthias Casse a day earlier at the World Judo Championship in Tokyo in order to avoid facing Israel’s Sagi Muki in the final.

In the past Iran has forbidden its athletes to compete against Israelis. In May, the International Judo Federation said it had reached an agreement with Iran to end the boycott, though the head of Iran’s national Olympic committee later denied it.

Mollaei has been accused of faking injuries and intentionally losing fights in the past to avoid facing Muki.

IJO head Moshe Fonti, speaking to Army Radio, said that an hour before Wednesday’s semifinals, the Israeli team heard that Mollaei, ranked No. 1 in the world, “intended to continue the contest, even if he had to face Sagi Muki at the final. We heard he’d asked the head of the Iranian judo association to ensure his family was kept safe.”

At the semifinals Mollaei was paired with Casse and Muki faced Egyptian Mohamed Abdelaal. After Muki defeated Abdelaal (the Egyptian’s refusal to shake Muki’s hand caused further controversy), it became clear that if Mollaei defeated the Belgian he would face off against the Israeli for the gold.

“From what we understand, within a short time Iranian intelligence officials came both to his home in Iran and to the judo arena and warned him,” Fonti said.

“I don’t know what happened there, but eventually he lost both battles,” Fonti said, referring to the fight against Casse and the subsequent fight for the bronze against Luka Maisuradze of Georgia. “He didn’t make it to the final with Sagi and he didn’t make it to the podium.”

Israeli judo commentator Miri Nevo said it was clear that Mollaei carried out what she called “a calibrated defeat,” to ensure he lost in the semifinal. She sniped that if the Iranians were so patriotic and hostile to Israel, they should “try to beat us” in sports.

Gold medalist Israel’s Sagi Muki on the podium of the men’s under 81kg category during the 2019 Judo World Championships at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on August 28, 2019. (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

Muki eventually defeated Casse and was named world champion, the first male Israeli athlete to reach the top. Mollaei, who had been reigning world champion after winning last year’s games, ended the contest in fifth place. If he had taken fourth or above he would have had to stand on the podium as Israel’s national anthem “Hatikvah” was played in honor of Muki.

Fonti did not blame Mollaei for his actions, saying that though he “had promised the head of the International Judo Federation he would compete… there were people at his family’s home in Iran. You can’t judge an athlete in such a situation.”

Muki on Wednesday said Mollaei was an “excellent” sportsman, while Israel’s team coach Oren Smadja said he was “a terrific guy.”

The notion that Mollaei had thrown his fight with Casse to avoid facing Muki was prevalent in outlets covering the contest.

Website Inside the Games noted that Mollaei, having “looked unstoppable in the preliminaries,” suddenly claimed to have suffered a head injury ahead of his fight with Casse and came to the fight “wearing a huge bandage on his head.” He “barely attempted a throw during the bout, before being thrown for ippon by Calle’s first real attack.”

Belgium’s Matthias Casse (in blue) celebrates winning the semifinal fight against a bandaged Saeid Mollaei of Iran in the men’s under 81kg category during the 2019 Judo World Championships at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on August 28, 2019. (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

French site RMC Sport said Mollaei “threw the semifinal heat after seeing [Muki’s] qualification for the final.”

It also reported that “in the morning, in the warm-up room, witnesses described Saied Mollaei as extremely agitated, on the verge of tears, citing the danger to his family.”

There were reports that prior to losing his fight against Casse, Mollaei had threatened during earlier stages of the competition to quit if he was paired up with Muki.

Cases of Iranian intentionally losing matches to avoid facing Israelis have been reported in the past. Last year an Iranian wrestler was banned for six months for deliberately throwing a match to avoid facing an Israeli opponent.

5 Old Olympics Facilities You Can Still Visit



5 Old Olympics Facilities You Can Still Visit

The Olympic Games are the leading international sporting events that still bring the world together. Thousands of athletic competitors from more than 200 nations participate and compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals. Media coverage is intense, sports records are broken, and stories of hope, despair, and triumph generate both empathy and world acclaim.

Since the ancient Olympics games held in Olympia, Greece, the winter and summer Olympics evolved into the modern versions we know today, which have taken place at elaborate facilities across the globe. Here are a few you can still visit to relive the glory.

Olympia, Greece: Ancient Olympic Games

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The roots of the Olympic Games are religious and athletic festivals held in honor of Zeus in Olympia on the Peloponnese Peninsula. During classical times, athletics and combat sports such as wrestling, javelin, and horse and chariot racing events were common.

Starting in 776 BC, they continued every four years through Greek and Roman rule until AD 393 when Theodosius suspended them to enforce Christianity. You can immerse yourself in ancient history by exploring the remnants of the once-grand Stadium at Olympia.

Olympia is located a 3.5-hour drive from Athens. Now transformed into a tourist destination, there is plenty to see and do. The archaeological site itself is surrounded by the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games in Antiquity, the Museum of the History of Excavations in Olympia, and the Archaeological Museum of Olympia.

The ancient site lies a brief five-minute walk from the main entrance. The sanctuary includes the gymnasium, the Temple of Hera, the Philippeion, and other fragments of buildings, statues, and monuments.

Berlin, Germany: Olympic Village (1936)

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This is where the Jews were barred from participating in 1936 during the Nazi rule. Berlin was awarded the Olympic contract two years before being taken over by the Nazis. They were the first Olympic games to be broadcast worldwide, and the competitions were not just for athletes but political messages, as well.

The Olympic village was built approximately 20 miles from the western edge of Berlin. The venue includes training facilities, a swimming pool, and low-level dormitories. The 1936 Olympics saw African-American Jesse Owens make history, earning four gold medals in the track and field events and setting three world records in the process. After the Olympics, the facility underwent renovations and became a hospital, then a Soviet military camp. Tours are available; however, be aware that the center is in decay.

Beijing, China: Birds Nest Stadium (2008)

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Designed for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, the National Stadium—perhaps better known as the Bird’s Nest—was the largest facility created for the games. The one-of-a-kind architecture interprets nature in its rendering of a bird’s nest.

The specifications were daunting: The structure needed to be earthquake-proof, with 111,000 tons of steel and struts, yet visually lightweight, airy, and inspiring. As one of Beijing’s top landmarks, it has hosted many competitions and events. Weight throw, discus, track and field, football, and other sporting events were held at the Bird’s Nest.

For the full visual impact, plan your trip at night to see the artistic illumination. Currently, it is used as a soccer stadium but is open for visitors and will host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Athens, Greece: Panathenaic Stadium (2004)

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Located on an ancient stadium site from the fourth century, the Panathenaic Stadium is a famous cultural and historic landmark in Athens, Greece. It is built entirely of marble and shaped as a parallelogram. It hosted the first modern games in 1896, and more recently, the 2004 games in Athens. This is where the iconic Olympic flame begins its trek to the new host city for every winter, summer, and youth games.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee owns, operates and manages the Panathenaic Stadium. Its mission is to advance, sponsor, and guard the Olympic Movement day and night, and to encourage the sporting spirit among the next generations. The modern-day stadium accommodates multi-purpose events for conferences, seminars, and athletics. You can take in classical history on a breathtaking tour with a certified guide, audio guide, or interactive nature journey.

Vancouver, Canada: Olympic Village Condos (2010)

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In 2010, Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The Millennium Development Group built one thousand units to accommodate close to 3,000 athletes and visitors. It is touted as the greenest, most environmentally-friendly complex in the world. The structures use natural solar heating, green roof practices, and other sustainable advances.

Do not expect to see artifacts of the 2010 Olympic Games as the property was re-purposed into a mixed-use community and open-space development. This compound is located on the southeast corner of False Creek, which has hiking, biking, shopping, and dog walking paths in a park near the Olympic Village. Vancouver’s famous (and protected) beaver community has taken up residence in the area.

How to play 2 classic card games—Bridge and Euchre



How to play 2 classic card games

Planning a game night? Specifically, are you planning one for four people? Don’t let your deck of cards go to waste without playing these classics. Bridge and Euchre are easy to pick up, hard to master, and designed for gatherings of four. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of these old standbys, and keep your friends entertained for games nights to come.


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The goal of bridge is to score points by bidding and winning tricks. The game is played in teams of two with a standard deck of 52 cards, with aces high and 2s low. During the game, players must follow the suit of the card on the table and attempt to win the trick by placing a card higher than their opponents’. Each round, during bidding, a trump suit is determined that outranks other suits and can be played at any time.

The game starts with each player drawing a card from a shuffled deck in order to determine the dealer. Whoever draws the highest card deals a hand of 13 to each player. The player to the left of the dealer starts the bidding, which proceeds clockwise around the table.

When bidding, you declare a trump along with the number of tricks you and your teammate will win. Bidding starts over 6, so bidding “1” means that you will take 7 tricks. Each suit is ranked in the order (from lowest to highest): Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, and no trump. When it is your turn to bid, you may either pass or bid higher. In order to raise a bid, you must declare more tricks from the same suit or an equivalent or higher number from a higher ranking suit.

When the game starts, the player who won the bid becomes the declarer. The player to the left of the declarer starts the trick by laying down a card of his choosing. The declarer’s teammate lays his hand on the table face up and sits out for the game. The declarer plays for both of them using his own hand and his teammate’s hand.

Teams are awarded points based on the number of tricks they won. Teams receive a bonus for scoring tricks above the bid. The declaring team receives a penalty for scoring below the bid. The first team to reach 100 points wins the game.


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Euchre is played by four players in teams of two with a deck of 24 cards consisting of 9 through ace of each suit. The goal of the game is to win more tricks than the opposing team. Ranking goes from nine (low) to ace (high). However, the rankings change for the trump suit. Once a trump suit is declared, the jack of that suit becomes the highest-ranking card, while the jack of the same color from the off-suit becomes the second highest ranking card. For example, if spades are trump, then the jack of spades is the highest ranking card and the jack of clubs is the second highest ranking card.

When the game beings, cards are dealt clockwise in sets of three and then sets of two, so that each player has five cards. The remaining four cards are set aside with the top card flipped over for players to see.

The player to the left of the dealer is the first to choose the trump suit. They may either choose the suit of the card that was flipped from the deal, or they may pass to the next player. If all players pass, then the player to the right of the dealer may declare any trump he/she wants. If trump is declared as the suit of the flipped card, the dealer takes the flipped card and replaces it (face down) with a card from that person’s hand.

The player to the left of the dealer leads the first trick. Players must play within the suit of the lead and may only use another suit (including the trump) if they do not have any cards from the lead suit. The player who wins a trick leads the next trick.

At the end of the game, the teams are scored. The team that declares the trump are the “attackers.” The other team are the defenders. Attackers are awarded 1 point for winning 3-4 tricks and 2 points for winning all 5. Defenders are awarded 2 points for winning 3-4 tricks and 4 points for winning all 5. The player who determines trump also has the option to play alone, in which case the player’s teammate places his/her hand face down and the game is played with only three players. If a player wins a game alone with 3-4 tricks, the team is awarded 1 point. If they win with 5 tricks, they are awarded 4 points. Scoring does not change for the defenders in this scenario. The first team to score 10 points wins the game.