By Payam Younesipour
May 14, 2020
Contributing video clips for an international online challenge, commissioned by the World Swimming Federation, has created trouble for some men and women of Iran’s national swimming team.
Several Iranian swimmers recently teamed up to make a video clip, using quarantines, coronavirus and a love of swimming as their theme. And yet the only part of the video that an outlet like Iran’s Young Journalists’ Club, a new agency, could focus on was the fact that the video included some women who were not wearing Islamic headscarves.
Mere moments after the video was posted online, the website of the Journalists’ Club splashed the headline “Iranian national team swimmers’ video with unconventional clothes in cyberspace.” The article by the Journalists’ Club added that “A group of our country’s national swimming team made an unconventional video and sent it to the World Swimming Federation, which was welcomed by the Federation. They have thus created a new problem.”
The Journalists Club’ also claimed that it had contacted Mohsen Rezvani, president of the Iran Swimming Federation, to ascertain his response to the video sent to the World Swimming Federation.
Rezvani later said that the video was “unconventional.” He also claimed that there were only two or three prominent Iranian swimmers in the men’s section of the clip – and that there were no prominent women swimmers in the clip.
At the same time, some reports claimed that Iranian women and men featured in the video were part of the national swimming team.
Rezvani added that: “The Iranian Swimming Federation is reviewing the video posted by the women swimmers on FINA’s [the World Swimming Federation] Instagram. We emailed FINA and announced that these videos should have been sent to FINA through our portal. It seems that FINA broadcasts any videos sent by swimmers; this video has nothing to do with [Iran’s] Federation.”
Rezvani also assured Iranian media that Iran’s Swimming Federation would follow the issue seriously.
One of the most famous swimmers in the video clip is Mehdi Ansari, a member of the Iranian national swimming team. In an interview with ISNA in July 2019, Mohsen Sami-Zadeh, the team’s technical manager, admitted that if Ansari had used new swimwear offered by the World Swimming Federation, which was designed to set new records in world competitions, he would not only have broken the Asian record and have reached the World Cup final, but he could have achieved the Tokyo Olympics quota.
Sami-Zadeh added that the national team’s swimming uniforms had not changed since 2009 and that Iran’s Federation had not purchased new uniforms for the national team.
Apart from Mehdi Ansari, Arsham Mirzaei, Sina Gholampour and Matin Balsini are other national swimming team that have participated in World Swimming Federation’s video challenge.
After Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iranian sports associated and fixtures have not included women’s swimming, diving, and water polo. Women taking part in swimming or water polo have therefore never competed in any international competitions.
When Iranian women do not have the right to participate in international competitions, being part of a “national” team does not make sense.
The Young Journalists Club, however, called on the Iran Swimming Federation to address the matter of the men and women of Iran’s national swimming team.
Yesterday, men and women of the Pakistan national swimming team joined the World Swimming Federation challenge as well, and submitted a video to the challenge. Swimmers from France, Qatar, Poland, Russia, and the United States have already taken part in the World Swimming Federation’s video challenge.