The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has come under fire over an Iranian athlete affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards who won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Iranian Javad Foroughi, a nurse working in a hospital run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, won the gold of the 10m compressed air pistol at the Tokyo 2020 Games, giving his country a “historic” Olympic medal in this competition.
South Korean shooter Jin Jong Oh, a six-time Olympic medalist, expressed his disappointment that Foroughi was awarded the gold medal.
This is “complete nonsense, ” Jong Oh said in comments reported by the Korea Times. “How can a terrorist win first place in the Olympics? This is the most trivial and ridiculous thing.”
The South Korean shooter’s comments came after an Iranian sports human rights organization issued a statement following Foroughi’s victory, deeming the award of an Olympic gold medal to Foroughi as “not only a disaster for Iranian sports, but also for the international community, especially the reputation of the International Olympic Committee.”
The organization called for an “immediate investigation by the International Olympic Committee, and the suspension of the medal until the investigations are completed.”
On the other hand, the International Olympic Committee said in a statement sent by e-mail to ‘The Eastern Herald’, earlier, that “athletes who run for the Olympics based on the standards of the current sports of the international federations and the International Olympic Committee can compete if they are selected by the Olympic committees in their countries.”.
She added that “there are many athletes from several Olympic committees around the world, members of the armed forces of their countries.”
The IOC called on activists to show any evidence that the gold-medal-winning Iranian athlete is a member of the Revolutionary Guards.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said in a statement to The Republic that the IOC “encourages anyone with evidence to send it to us.”
Several Iranian newspapers celebrated the victory of Foroughi, who was shown performing the military salute during the playing of the Iranian national anthem after imitating his medal.
And the state newspaper “Iran” wrote, “Foroughi wrote history with a golden toss,” noting that it was the first time that the Islamic Republic won a medal in this competition during the Olympic Games.
She praised “an unexpected medal and not expected by many, for a nurse from the (Revolutionary) Guard who is at the same time a defender of health and a defender of the sanctuary.”
The phrase “defenders of the sanctuary” is used in Iran to refer to those who performed tasks for its benefit in Syria and Iraq, the two countries that contain several Shiite holy shrines, and Tehran supported them during the conflicts of the past years, especially in the face of jihadist organizations.
Since 2019, the United States has designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, the first time that Washington has officially designated another country’s army as a terrorist group.
Founded in 1979 to protect the ruling theocracy, the Revolutionary Guards is Iran’s most powerful security organization and controls large swathes of the Islamic Republic’s economy and armed forces and has an enormous influence on its political system.
In early May, Foroughi spoke in an interview with the “Salamat” health channel, which is affiliated with the Iranian official channels, about his volunteering to work in “field hospitals” established in conflict areas in Syria, especially Khan Toman and Palmyra.
Shortly after his victory on Saturday, state television broadcast a live report from the Baqiyatullah Hospital, which is run by the Revolutionary Guards in Tehran. Colleagues of Foroughi expressed their joy at the “first victory of an Iranian nurse” to participate in the games.
Foroughi received the congratulations of the Commander-in-Chief of the Revolutionary Guards, Major General Hossein Salami, who expressed his “proud” of what the Iranian shooter achieved, according to a statement on the Guard’s website, Sepah News.
President-elect Ibrahim Raisi, who takes office in early August, called Foroughi to congratulate him on his gold medal, the official IRNA news agency reported.