'Enemies don't want us to win medals'

May 18, 2012, 06:09 IST | Agencies

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has claimed that UK authorities are blocking his attempt to spur on his countrymen at the Olympic Games in London

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (in pic) said yesterday he hopes to attend this summer’s Olympic Games in London but that the British authorities were reluctant to allow him.

“I would like to be beside the Iranian athletes at the Olympic Games in London to support them, but (the British) have issues with my presence,” Ahmadinejad said, without offering further explanation. “The enemies do not want our athletes to win medals, but our young people shall be present at the Olympic Games and, like Arash, give new reasons to take pride in Islamic Iran,” he said.

Arash is a mythical hero of ancient Persia. According to legend, he was instructed to shoot an arrow that would determine the country’s border. He exerted all his strength to shoot the arrow a great distance, but was destroyed in the process. Relations between Tehran and London are at an all-time low. London closed its embassy in Tehran after a rampage of the building by Islamist students in November 2011.

Britain was one of the first European countries to adopt sanctions against the Iranian Central Bank to put pressure on the Islamic republic for its disputed nuclear programme. And in February 2011, Iran protested to the International Olympic Committee against the official logo of the 2012 Olympics, claiming it was “racist”, an accusation the London Organising Committee described as “surprising”.

According to Tehran, one could read the word Zion in the logo. The organisers defended the logo, saying it was “modern, bold and flexible” and could be able to appeal to a younger audience. President Ahmadinejad has repeatedly stated in recent years that Israel will one day be “wiped off the map” and cast doubt on the magnitude or actual occurrence of the Holocaust.

Iran blocked official Olympics website
In April, Iranians complained that they were unable to connect to london2012.com and that access had been blocked. The site was subsequently unblocked. 

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