Iran will bar the United States wrestling team from a major international meet this month in response to President Trump’s order severely limiting travel from several Muslim-majority countries, including Iran.
Bahram Qasemi, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, announced the decision Friday morning, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
The agency reported that the decision had been made by “a special committee, which opposed to presence of the team after necessary studies.” Mr. Qasemi said the ministry opposed the Americans’ participation because of Mr. Trump’s order.
“We’re in talks about it right at the moment,” said Christina Kelley, the chief international ambassador for U.S.A. Wrestling. “We’re pretty devastated.”
A U.S.A. Wrestling statement, while noting that the group had not received official confirmation of the decision, said: “If these reports are true, U.S.A. Wrestling is extremely disappointed about this, which we believe would be an unacceptable situation. Wrestling is about competition and good will through sport, and is no place for politics.”
The event, the Freestyle World Cup, is scheduled for Feb. 16 and 17 in Kermanshah, Iran. Held annually, it pits the best wrestlers in the world in team competition. Last year, the event was held in Los Angeles, and it is scheduled to be held in Iowa City in 2018. Iran has won the event five years in a row.
Americans and Iranians regularly wrestle in each other’s countries, with few problems, if any. Wrestling is one of the most popular sports in Iran: 43 of the nation’s 69 Olympic medals have come in wrestling.
The United States and Iran worked together in 2013 to persuade the International Olympic Committee to keep wrestling in the Summer Games when it was threatened with removal.
There is an international wrestling meet scheduled for May in Times Square, an annual contest pitting top Americans against international stars. But it is not clear if Iranians will be granted sports visas to compete.
Mr. Trump’s order bars visitors from seven nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Nenad Lalovic, the president of United World Wrestling, the international federation, said in a statement: “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.”
“United World Wrestling hosts a full calendar of events every season, and we’re certain to see American and Iranian wrestlers on the same mat again in the very near future,” it added.
Mr. Trump’s order is a complicated issue for the United States Olympic Committee, which calls itself “the steward of the Olympic movement in the United States.” The organization does not want to antagonize the president, so its response has been relatively muted. The committee is invested in a bid to bring the 2024 Summer Games to Los Angeles, and that bid’s chances have been damaged by the executive order, which alarmed some of the International Olympic Committee members who will select the host city.
“We are disappointed for our wrestlers, who have been warmly welcomed by the Iranian public on many occasions,” said Patrick Sandusky, a spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee.
Jordan Burroughs, an American who won a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics and who was to participate in the World Cup, told The Associated Press: “These executive decisions are always so far beyond your reach. You always feel like, ‘Well, the presidency or these strict laws or these Muslim bans or whatever you like to call them, they’ll never affect me.’ This is one of the few times where something so personal has occurred.”
“There is such a common respect for wrestlers in Iran,” Burroughs told NBC. “They love wrestling. They’re huge fans of mine. I’m bummed about that. I really wanted to be part of something great in what I consider a great country. Obviously, my views and our country’s views are different.”
Iran said on Saturday that it would stop American citizens from entering the country, in retaliation for Mr. Trump’s order. But American wrestling officials had been hopeful that an exception could be made to allow the American athletes to participate.