Saeid Mollaei claimed he had received threats to his safety ©Getty Images

National Olympic Committee of the Islamic Republic of Iran President Syed Reza Salehi Amiri has claimed Saeid Mollaei would be greeted “like a champion” if he returned to the country, despite the judoka saying he had been threatened.

The former world champion revealed he would seek asylum after confirming Iranian officials threatened to hurt him and his family if he did not withdraw or deliberately lose at the International Judo Federation (IJF) World Championships last month.

Mollaei, the world number one at men's under-81 kilogram level, was due to face Sagi Muki of Israel in the final in the Japanese capital.

For years, Iranian athletes have been prohibited from competing in any sport against Israelis.

In May this year, Iran's National Olympic Committee signed a letter with the IJF, promising they would "fully respect the Olympic Charter and its non-discrimination principle" in future competitions, although Amiri later made comments to national media suggesting they would go back on this pledge.

Mollaei has claimed he was willing to fight Muki at the Nippon Budokan in what would have been a historic first meeting between the two highest ranked judokas in their weight category.

Before Mollaei's third round fight against the Olympic champion, Russian Khasan Khalmurzaev, he was called by the Iranian First Deputy Minister of Sport, Davar Zani, who ordered him to withdraw from the competition to avoid a potential contest between Iran and Israel.

Mollaei also claimed Zani made threats against him and his family.

The IJF said Mollaei cannot return to his country and amid concerns over the safety of his family.

He believed to be seeking refuge in Germany, but Amiri has claimed the judoka would be safe, adding that Mollaei has indicated his willingness to return.

Saeid Mollaei is reportedly seeking asylum in Germany ©Getty Images
Saeid Mollaei is reportedly seeking asylum in Germany ©Getty Images

"We have assured Mollaei that he and his family will not and have not faced any threats or danger," Amiri told the Iranian state news agency ISNA.

"We guarantee that if he returns to Iran, we will welcome him like a champion with open arms.

"The messages he gives me indicate that he is interested in returning, and I also message here that he is home and has no problem returning.

"Our athlete is in a decision crisis, so we have to analyse what is happening on the field.”

Amiri has claimed he has sent four letters of complaint to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over the conduct of the IJF and its President Marius Vizer.

Mollaei met with Vizer, who assured him of his full support during the World Championships.

He ignored the earlier calls to withdraw and reached the semi-finals.

The IJF showed their support by launching the hashtag #ISupportMollaei on Twitter.

"We have informed the NOC that we have asked the IJF to start an inquiry and to inform us about the outcome," the IOC said.

IJF President Marius Vizer, left, met with Saeid Mollaei during the World Championships in Tokyo ©Getty Images
IJF President Marius Vizer, left, met with Saeid Mollaei during the World Championships in Tokyo ©Getty Images

insidethegames has contacted the IJF for comment.

According to the BBC, the Iranian Government are coming under pressure from the public over their “state interference in sports”.

The hashtag #BanIRSportsFederations has reportedly been used more than 60,000 times on Twitter in just 24 hours to call for a ban on the country's federations.

Along with the Mollaei case, supporters of the ban have referred to a 29-year-old woman who set herself on fire outside a court in Tehran.

The act was in protest at a prison sentence she had received for trying to enter a football stadium disguised as a man.

Iran has not yet guaranteed that women can attend official football matches, despite being set a deadline of 31 August by FIFA.