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IRGC member winning medal in Tokyo Olympics a ‘catastrophe’: Iranian activists

Published: Updated:

A member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) won the country’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, drawing mixed reactions from Iranians. A group of Iranian activists and athletes dubbed his victory a “catastrophe” on Sunday.

Javad Foroughi, 41, won Iran’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in the men’s 10-meter air pistol competition on Saturday. Foroughi won gold – Iran’s first ever shooting medal – with a Games record total of 244.8 in the final.

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United For Navid, a group of Iranian activists and athletes led by US-based Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad, said in a statement on Sunday Foroughi’s win was “not only a catastrophe for Iranian sports but also for the international community, and especially the reputation of International Olympic Committee (IOC).”

The group is named after Navid Afkari, an Iranian champion wrestler whom the Islamic Republic executed in 2020. Afkari’s execution drew widespread condemnation, including from the US and the EU.

Iran accused Afkari of killing a security guard during anti-government protests in 2018 – a charge the executed wrestler and his family rejected. They maintained he was tortured into making false confessions.

Foroughi “is a current and longtime member of a terrorist organization,” the statement said, referring to the IRGC, which was designated by the US as a foreign terrorist organisation in 2019.

The IRGC “has a history of violence and killing not only of Iranian people and protesters there, but also innocent people in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon,” United For Navid said.

Foroughi is a nurse at the IRGC-owned Baghiyyatollah hospital in Tehran who practiced shooting in the hospital basement, according to Iranian media.

Foroughi dedicated his medal to one of the 12 Shia Imams and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

“I dedicate my medal to Imam Mahdi and my [supreme] leader,” Foroughi told the semi-official Tasnim news agency after his win.

Foroughi said he was dispatched to Syria in 2012-2013, serving there for two years as part of the IRGC’s medical team.

United For Navid said it had written to the IOC earlier this year, warning about “the possible presence of the military and even politicians serving as athletic representatives of Iran.”

“Officials of the IOC never took any action.”

United For Navid called for an investigation by the IOC, “and until an investigation is completed the suspension of any medal award.”

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