Less than 48 hours after Iran announced that the United States wrestling team would be denied entry visas into Iran for the 2017 World Cup in Kermanshah, it appears as though the Iranian government has reversed their decision.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi told local media that Iran’s decision to issue the visas was made after a US federal judge blocked President Donald Trump’s immigration executive order, and because of ongoing discussions with the International Wrestling Federation (IWF) and the Iranian Wrestling Federation on behalf of the Americans.
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, also commented on Twitter.
“Following the court ruling suspending #MuslimBan & the requests from Iranian Wrestling Federation & FILA, US Wrestlers’ visa will be granted.”
The US wrestling team returned to Iran for the 1998 Takhti Cup in Tehran following an absence of nearly 20 years. Since then, the US team has been in Iran for tournaments 15 times, while Iranian wrestlers have made 16 visits to the US since the 1990s. This is the first time that Iran has hosted the tournament since 2013, while the Americans last hosted the tournament in California last year. There, Iran won its fifth consecutive World Cup title.
The decision to deny entry visas to U.S. athletes was seen as a retaliatory action for Trump’s restrictive executive order that banned entry to nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran. Had the travel ban not been reversed by a federal judge in the U.S., it would have spelled the end of decades of crucial sports diplomacy through wrestling between the United States and Iran.