Sun Feb 5, 2017 08:49AM
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi

Iran has agreed to issue visas for US freestyle wrestlers seeking to join World Cup games in the Islamic Republic after Washington suspended a controversial ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations, including Iranians.

In a Sunday statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the visa ban against American athletes was revoked following “the halt in the implementation of discriminatory restrictive measures against the entry of Iranian citizens into the US as well as requests by the Iran Wrestling Federation and the president of the United World Wrestling.”

Last Friday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order, banning the entry of citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen into the United States for 90 days over purported security concerns.

In a retaliatory move, Iran formed an ad hoc committee tasked with canvassing the potential participation of US athletes in the prestigious international tournament, which is due to take place in Iran’s western city of Kermanshah from February 16-17.

The committee decided against issuing of visas for the American team.

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A week later and after considerable domestic and international backlash, US District Court Judge James Robart of Seattle, Washington, ruled in favor of a lawsuit seeking to overturn the presidential order, and thus obliging the White House to suspend the ban.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also announced on his Twitter page Iran’s new decision to allow American wrestlers into the country after the suspension of Trump’s Muslim ban.

On Saturday, President of the Iran Wrestling Federation Rassoul Khadem sent a letter to Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Masoud Soltanifar, demanding that the administration grant visas to US freestyle wrestlers regardless of the “inhumane and immoral policies” adopted by the new US administration.

He cited opposition from the American sports authorities and athletes against Trump’s Muslim ban.

In a statement a day earlier, United World Wrestling President Nenad Lalovic had also said the sports body respects Tehran’s retaliatory visa ban, but was “working to find a solution for the Freestyle World Cup as soon as possible.”