The 27-year-old was handed two death sentences for the alleged murder of a security agent.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and amateur wrestling’s governing body United World Wrestling (UWW) have condemned the execution of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari.
Afkari was handed two death sentences for the alleged murder of a security agent during anti-government protests in 2018. He was executed in a prison in the southern city of Shiraz on Saturday, raising criticism from various sporting bodies.
The International Olympic Committee expressed grief over the execution of the athlete and said they are shocked by this development.
“The execution of wrestler Navid Afkari in Iran is very sad news. The IOC is shocked by this announcement. In letters, Thomas Bach, the IOC President, had made direct personal appeals to the Supreme Leader and to the President of Iran this week and asked for mercy for Navid Afkari, while respecting the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” IOC said in a statement.
“It is deeply upsetting that the pleas of athletes from around the world and all the behind-the-scenes work of the IOC, together with the NOC of Iran, United World Wrestling and the National Iranian Wrestling Federation, did not achieve our goal. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Navid Afkari.”
There are allegations being made that the confession was coerced with the wrestler being put under intense physical and psychological torture. There are also suggestions made by some government critics that the authorities are using him to send a message in an effort to silence the dissenting voices. His brothers Vahid and Habib have also been sentenced to 54 and 27 years in prison for the same crime.
Iran’s judiciary denied the claims, rather maintaining that Afkari stabbed an innocent man to death and that the court reached the death sentence based on strong evidence, a decision that was also upheld by the Supreme Court.
The United World Wrestling said in a statement, “United World Wrestling has learned that the scheduled execution of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari took place this morning in Iran.”
“It is deeply upsetting that the pleas of athletes from around the world and all behind the scene work of United World Wrestling and the National Iranian Wrestling Federation, the IOC together with the NOC of Iran did not achieve our goal. The news is devastating and the entire wrestling community mourns his death,” it concluded.