Iran's Ahmadinejad wants to come to the London Olympics

By Jennifer Lipman, May 18, 2012
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has "no business" attending the London Olympic Games this summer, the World Jewish Congress said this week.

The Iranian leader told the country's official news agency that he wanted to go to the games to watch some of the 50 Iranian athletes who had qualified compete for gold.

But he added that he had a hurdle to cross in his route to the Olympics. "The host has a problem with this," he said.

Unwanted guests can be prevented from attending if British government officials decide their presence is not conducive to "the public good". A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said that she could not comment on individual cases.

"It's difficult enough to stomach that a man like the Iranian president is regularly given the opportunity to deliver from the podium of the United Nations hate speeches that are filled with antisemitic canards, invective against Israel and the West, and denial of the Holocaust," said a spokesman for the WJC.

"No senior Iranian government officials should be allowed to attend the Olympics under the cover of diplomatic immunity. Ahmadinejad's presence in London – and that of other dictators - would almost certainly steal the limelight from the sporting events."

Noting that the Iranian regime has in the past attempted to stop its athletes participating in events with Israelis, he called for the International Olympic Committee to take strong action in the event that this happened this summer.

He said: "The Olympics are, or rather, should be, about sports, and athletes from all nations including Iran must be welcome to participate provided they abide by the rules of the games."

Earlier this year, Westminster cut ties with Tehran after a group of extremist students raided the British mission in Iran.

Mr Ahmadinejad did not comment on the Olympic logo, which last year Iranian officials condemned as a "disgraceful" reminder of the word "Zion".

Last updated: 2:26pm, May 18 2012