October 17, 2021

Prominent Iranian athletes and human rights activists called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in an official letter to immediately address violations of the Olympic Charter by the Iran Olympic Committee.

The United For Navid campaign provided the International Olympic Committee with an initial list of athletes who have been tortured, beaten, arrested and denied access to competition and sport. These included athletes who were discriminated against because of their ethnicity or religion.

By opening an investigation on athlete abuse in Iran, the IOC will send a strong message that they are first and foremost an athlete-centered organization. The Games cannot go on if athlete rights are not upheld.
“The IOC must immediately take action and open an investigation. There is a grave fear of retribution for those that come forward, a very real fear not just for individual safety but for the safety of their families. Human rights are athlete rights, and athletes need the IOC to uphold the Olympic Charter to protect Iranian athletes” said Sardar Pashaei. “Navid Afkari’s death will not be in vain, we need immediate action to ensure these horrific acts stop immediately,” added Pashaei.

In a letter to IOC president Thomas Bach and the IOC executive board, United For Navid, noted that “in accordance with Article 27 (2.5) of the Olympic Charter, National Olympic Committees must act against any form of discrimination and violence in sport. Based on the attached information of athlete abuse in Iran it is abundantly clear that these abuses are occurring regularly.

“Many athletes have been murdered, tortured, beaten, arrested and denied access to competition and sport. As you can appreciate, these cases (of which there are more) are extremely sensitive. There is grave fear of retribution for those who come forward, a very real fear not just for individual safety but for the safety of their families as well. We have compiled additional information from many other athletes who are afraid to come forward due to the fear of retribution.”

“The Iranian National Olympic Committee, as the ultimate authority for oversight of sport in Iran, has failed to protect athletes and their wellbeing,’’ Pashaei said. “Instead, the Iran Olympic Committee remains silent and complicit. IOC must act.”

United for Navid will provide more lists of athletes who have been officially abused and discriminated against in future