Iran will boycott wrestling and fencing tournaments in Atlanta and New York next month to protest American forces' actions in Shiite holy cities in Iraq, dealing a setback to sports diplomacy between the two nations.
The announcements yesterday came one day after Iran's Foreign Ministry said Tehran sent a "warning" message to the United States through the Swiss Embassy concerning Washington's actions in Iraq. A ministry spokesman would not elaborate.
Iranian wrestlers will not participate in the Titan Games, a pre-Olympics competition in Atlanta starting June 18, the head of Iran's Wrestling Federation said.
Mohammad Reza Taleqani told the Associated Press the decision was made "because of the current situation in the holy cities in Iraq." However, Iran may reconsider if U.S.-led coalition forces withdraw from holy cities in Iraq, he said.
The Iranian Fencing Federation also will boycott the June 10-13 New York Grand Prix, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Officials with the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Titan Games said yesterday they have not been officially notified.
"At this point, it is still speculation because we have not received anything by fax or by mail," said Kevin Neuendorf, USOC's manager of media services. He said the USOC and USA Wrestling were trying to contact Iran's Wrestling Federation.
"As far as I'm concerned, they're still coming until the USOC says they're not coming," Matt Garvey of the Atlanta Sports Council said.
Apart from the United States and Iran, other countries scheduled to participate are Canada, China, Colombia, Georgia, Germany, Mexico and South Korea. The tournament features boxing, fencing, judo, karate, shot put, taekwondo, weightlifting and wrestling.
-- From News Services