Despite an Iranian assertion on Monday that its athletes would compete against Israeli ones at the 2012 Games, just hours earlier the Iranian team departed for London, leaving behind the lone athlete who had the possibility of facing an Israeli opponent.
On Sunday authorities had announced that that athlete, Javad Mahjoob, a judo champion, is suffering from a “critical digestive system infection,” forcing him to take antibiotics and not travel to the Games, which begin on Friday.
Mahjoob’s absence has led to speculation that Iran is maintaining its long-standing policy of not allowing its athletes to compete with Israeli opponents.
Mahjoob himself has acknowledged going to great lengths to keep from squaring off against an Israeli. In a 2011 interview with the Iranian newspaper Shargh, Mahjoob admitted to throwing a match against a German opponent, saying that, “If I won I would have had to compete with an Israeli athlete. And if I refused to compete with the Israeli, they would have suspended our Judo federation for 4 years.”