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Iran bars US wrestlers from tournament following Trump's Muslim ban

Iran, which had already banned US citizens from entering the country, decided against allowing US athletes to participate in Freestyle World Cup
Jordan Burroughs of the USA and Peyman Yarahmadi of Iran during the 'United In The Square' Beat the Streets Wrestling in New York City, 19 May, 2016 (AFP)

Amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington, Iran, which is hosting an international wrestling tournament, will bar American athletes from participating in the event.

The decision is a part of Tehran’s retaliation against President Donald Trump’s executive order that restricted the travel of Iranians and nationals of six other Muslim-majority nations into the US.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi said on Friday that a special committee decided against allowing the US team into Iran “after necessary studies”.

Tehran had already announced it will stop US citizens from entering the country.

"The visa policy of the new American administration gave us no other option but to ban the wrestlers," Qasemi told state television.

The Freestyle World Cup, one of the sport's most prestigious events, is scheduled for 16-17 February, and USA Wrestling had previously said it would send a team to the competition in the western Iranian city of Kermanshah.

USA Wrestling said it has not been notified of the decision.

"If these reports are true, USA Wrestling is extremely disappointed about this, which we believe would be an unacceptable situation. Wrestling is about competition and goodwill through sport, and is no place for politics," USA Wrestling said in a statement.

Nenad Lalovic, president of United World Wrestling, the sport's international federation, said it was working towards a solution.

"Though we had hoped for a different outcome from Iran's Foreign Ministry, we appreciate the complex nature of this decision. We are currently working to find a solution for the Freestyle World Cup as soon as possible," he said in a statement.

Trump has adopted an aggressive stance towards Tehran since Iran's ballistic missile test-launch, saying it was now "on notice". The new US administration is expected to impose fresh sanctions on multiple Iranian entities.

Since Trump signed the executive order that became known as a Muslim ban, more than 100,000 visas to the US have been revoked, according to a US Justice Department attorney. 

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