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Responding to Trump, Tehran bans travel of U.S. wrestlers to Iran

U.S. wrestler Jordan Burroughs competes against Iran's Sadegh Saeed in the men's 74-kilogram freestyle wrestling gold medal match at the 2012 Olympics in London.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Iran on Friday banned U.S wrestlers from participating in the Freestyle World Cup competition in response to President Trump’s executive order forbidding visas for Iranians, according to an official IRNA news agency report.

The news agency quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying a special committee reviewed the case and “eventually the visit by the U.S. freestyle wrestling team was opposed.”

The decision marks the first action taken by Iran in response to Trump’s executive order banning visas for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran. Earlier this week, Iran said it would take retaliatory action. Ghasemi said the policy of the new U.S. administration left Iran no other choice but to ban the wrestlers.

The competition in the western Iranian city of Kermanshah is scheduled for Feb. 16-17.

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USA Wrestling had said it would send a team to participate in the Freestyle World Cup, one of the most prestigious competitions in all of international wrestling.

Wrestling is extremely popular in Iran, and U.S. freestyle wrestlers have competed there since the 1998 Takhti Cup in Tehran following an absence of nearly 20 years. Since then, Americans have attended Iran-hosted wrestling competitions 15 times. Iranians, in return, made 16 visits to the U.S. as guest of USA Wrestling since the 1990s.

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