Iran Supports Bidding for World Weightlifting Event

Weightlifting is a very important sport in Iran because of its history. The country’s first medal at the Olympic Games was in weightlifting in 1948
Participants line up in the opening ceremony of Fajr CupParticipants line up in the opening ceremony of Fajr Cup

On a historic day for sports in Iran, the country’s National Olympic Committee said it would support a future bid to host the International Weightlifting Federation World Championships.

The launch of a women’s weightlifting program in Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province, on Friday, coinciding with the International Women’s Day, removed the biggest obstacle to any prospective bid by Iran, which last hosted a world championships in 1965, reported.

The IWF could never consider taking its flagship annual event to a nation where the sport was for men only, which it has been until now.

The launch preceded the start of the Third Fajr Cup, an international competition that will be open to women from next year, if all goes to plan.

Shahrokh Shahnazi, secretary-general of the Iran National Olympic Committee, said, “Our strategy is to support and promote women’s sport. We have started very positively and seriously, and we will give strong support to women’s weightlifting. It is a very important sport in Iran because of its history; our first medal at the Olympic Games was in weightlifting (in 1948). We have discovered that there is great potential for women’s weightlifting (as well).”

On the subject of hosting world championships, Shahnazi said cultural challenges could be overcome by staging men’s and women’s competitions on separate platforms at the same venue and foreign athletes would not have to follow the Islamic dress code that applies to Iranian women.

“We have done it in other sports, for example karate, even football we have had the same situation with separate arenas,” he said. “Foreigners have come and they accept and respect our culture. But it’s their decision; we don’t impose our culture and regulations on them, that’s why we don’t really feel there is any problem.”

Asked if the 2019 Fajr Cup would be open to men and women, Shahnazi said, “Yes, we can do that. If the IWF and our national weightlifting federation agree, we will support it. The nature of sport is peace, friendship and brotherhood, and we focus on that slogan which is so important to the Olympic Movement.”

The Iranians would have to seek approval from the IWF, should they want to introduce any special conditions for the Fajr Cup, which is on the IWF’s international calendar.

The next world championships will be in 2021.

Ursula Garza Papandrea, president of USA Weightlifting and the head of IWF Women’s Commission, spoke at the launch and led a women’s coaching education session afterwards.

Papandrea noted that of all the women’s sport projects she had supported over the years, this one in Iran was the most significant.

“I am honored to be here,” she said.

Derrick Johnson, the American who is coached by Garza Papandrea, won the first event of the Fajr Cup, in the 62 kg class.

Johnson, the first American to compete in Iran in 53 years, made only two good lifts but his total of 250 kg put him clear of Serbia’s Stevan Vladisavljev on 242 kg and Tajikistan’s Sunatollo Oiev on 235 kg.


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