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Jewish Group Calls for Iran to be Barred From Olympics for Boycotting Israeli Athletes

"Unsportsmanlike and smacks of anti-Semitism."

JERUSALEM (The Blaze/AP) -- A Jewish organization says Iran should be barred from taking part in the Olympics and other international sporting events until its athletes stop boycotting their Israeli counterparts.

The World Jewish Congress says the Iranian behavior is "unsportsmanlike and smacks of anti-Semitism."

Iranian swimmer Mohammed Alirezaei pulled out of a race that included an Israeli at the world swimming championships in Shanghai this week, claiming he was "tired and drowsy."

The same swimmer pulled out of a race against an Israeli at the 2008 Olympics, claiming he was ill. Iranian athletes have pulled out of events in similar circumstances in the past.

World Jewish Congress head Ronald Lauder called the country's continuous efforts to politicize sports "disgraceful" and said the Iranian regime's attempts to keep its athletes from competing against Israelis is "a clear breach of the spirit and the letter of the statutes of international sporting bodies," Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

"It is high time that a strong signal is sent to Iran than unless this long-standing boycott is lifted, Iranian athletes will not be allowed to enter major international events such as next year's Olympic Games in London," Lauder said. "This kind of bigotry can and must be overcome, and Tehran must give clear undertakings that Iranian athletes do not shun their Israeli counterparts at sporting events."

In 1964, South Africa was barred from participating in the Olympics because of its refusal to condemn apartheid. The ban lasted until the 1992 games in Barcelona. Afghanistan was prohibited from participating in the 2000 Sydney games due to its discrimination against women under Taliban rule. The ban was lifted in 2002 after the Taliban fell.

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