By Nick Butler at the InterContinental Hotel in Bangkok

Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah outlined how other cultures must always be respected when considering the Iranian stance ©AFP/Getty ImagesAssociation of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah has claimed different cultures must be respected when considering the woman jailed for a year after attending an International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) World League match in Iran. 

He also warned political agendas should be kept out of the sports world.

Ghoncheh Ghavami, a 25-year-old law graduate with joint British and Iranian citizenship, was arrested on June 20 after attending the match between Iran and Italy. 

Women have been banned from attending volleyball matches since 2012, although Ghavami was officially chargd for "propaganda against the regime".

After being held for over 120 days at Evin Prison in the capital city her lawyer claimed on Sunday (November 2) that she has been sentenced to one year imprisonment.

An official verdict remains still to be announced.

Ghavami has since embarked on a hunger strike in protest against the decision, which has provoked widespread international condemnation.

Earlier today, Wilfried Lemke, special adviser of the secretary general of the United Nations on Sport for Development and Peace, demanded an explanation from the Iranian Government on the issue, "because it's absolutely not the way that we want to deal with women in sports".

But, speaking following an ANOC Executive Council meeting here this evening, Sheikh Ahmad claimed Ghavami was using the situation for political reasons.

"Don't see it only that she has a British passport," he said. 

"If she's Iranian, she doesn't have to use this benefit for politics in sport. 

"We have to see it from both sides.

"If she's investing her nationality for a political situation, we will reject it because we don't want anybody to use sport for politics.

"In sport we want peace and solidarity - if somebody will use it for wrong messages, we can resist.

"You have to know that there are different cultures around the world, there is not only one culture."

British-Iranian student Ghoncheh Ghavami has been held since June following her arrest ©Change.orgBritish-Iranian student Ghoncheh Ghavami has been held since June following her arrest ©

The issue was not discussed during the ANOC meeting, but Sheikh Ahmad revealed that in his other capacity as Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President, he has spoken to the National Olympic Committee of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and they have promised to send a report.

He added that no conclusions should be drawn until this report has been heard. 

He also cited how Asian sport has helped solve political problems in recent weeks, including at the Incheon 2014 Asian Games, where a North Korean team participated on South Korean soil.

Sheikh Ahmad, one of the key powerbrokers in world sport, has long had a reputation for being a passionate defender of Asian and Islamic cultures, having hit back on several occasions at the criticism of Qatar's successful bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Some of the media coverage was motivated by "racism", he has claimed.

But the Olympic Charter bans discrimination against anyone based on race or gender, including women.

"The IOC encourages and supports the promotion of women in sport at all levels and in all structures, with a view to implementing the principle of equality of men and women," it reads.

On this occasion, the International Olympic Committee has also written to the National Olympic Committee of the Islamic Republic of Iran asking them to help Ghavami.

IOC Communications Director Mark Adams told insidethegames yesterday that "the IOC has been in touch with the FIVB regarding this matter from the very beginning and we hope the issue will soon be resolved".

The FIVB told insidethegames today that they are "deeply saddened to hear that Ghoncheh Ghavami was sentenced to one year in prison and subsequently has now gone on hunger strike for a second time", and are "continuing to evaluate what options it has going forward". 

They are yet to confirm whether they will take any action against Iran, who are due to host the 2015 Asian Volleyball Championships.

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