ANKARA Iran said on Friday it had barred a U.S. wrestling team from participating in the Freestyle World Cup competition in retaliation for an executive order by President Donald Trump banning visas for Iranians, state television reported.
The Freestyle World Cup, one of the sport’s most prestigious events, is scheduled for Feb. 16-17 and USA Wrestling has previously said it would send a team to the competition, which will take place in the western Iranian city of Kermanshah.
Tehran has already announced it will stop U.S. citizens entering the country following Washington’s decision to ban refugees and citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries including Iran.
“A special committee in Tehran reviewed their cases and decided to oppose the visit by the U.S. freestyle wrestling team,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi was quoted by state television as saying.
“The visa policy of the new American administration gave us no other option but to ban the wrestlers.”
USA Wrestling said on Monday the United States would send a team to Iran, where U.S. freestyle wrestlers have participated in competitions since 1998. It was not immediately available to comment on the matter on Friday.
Trump has adopted an aggressive posture toward Tehran since Iran’s ballistic missile test-launch, putting it “on notice”. The new U.S. administration is expected to impose fresh sanctions on multiple Iranian entities.
(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Gareth Jones)