BEIJING (JTA)—An Iranian swimmer refused to compete against his Israeli counterpart at the Beijing Olympics.
Mohammad Alirezaei pulled out of the 100-meter breaststroke race Saturday, apparently in protest at the participation of Israel’s Tom Beeri. An Iranian press report, however, said Alirezaei cited illness for his absence.
Iran refuses to recognize Israel and has boycotted the Jewish state in international events.
Separately, the Israeli coach of Russia’s basketball team said he shook hands with Iranian athletes Sunday. The encounter happened after David Blatt’s team trounced Iran at the Beijing Games.
Blatt, who is American-born, indicated to Israel Radio that the Iranians may not have known about his second nationality.