Was Iranian unwilling to race Israeli

The International Olympic Committee accepted the explanation of an Iranian swimmer who withdrew from a race at the Beijing Summer Games that included an Israeli.

A spokeswoman for the IOC said Aug. 11 the swimmer, Mohammad Alirezaei, had confirmed in writing that he withdrew from the men’s 100-meter breaststroke because of illness. The spokeswoman, Giselle Davies, said the committee would take Alirezaei at his word.

Iran could have faced sanctions had Alirezaei pulled out of the race because an Israeli was scheduled to compete.

Separately, the Israeli coach of Russia’s basketball team said he shook hands with Iranian athletes Aug. 10. The encounter happened after David Blatt’s team trounced Iran. Blatt, who is American-born, indicated to Israel Radio that the Iranians may not have known about his second nationality. — jta

Jewish Olympians set marks, win medals, deal with Iran