Saeid Mollaei and Pierre-Emmanuel Quirin, director general of Crans Montana Forum, during the awarding ceremony ©Crans Montana Forum/IJF

Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei has received the Crans Montana Forum gold medal for seeking asylum in Germany, after being ordered to throw his semi-final at this year's World Championships rather than risk facing an Israeli in the final of the under-81 kilograms class.

Now a refugee in Germany, the 27-year-old was presented with the honour in Belgium's capital Brussels by Crans Montana Forum's chairman and founder Jean-Paul Carteron and director general Pierre-Emmanuel Quirin.

Mollaei had been defending his title at the International Judo Federation (IJF) World Championships in Tokyo in August.

He lost his semi-final and then went on to lose his third-place fight.

Mollaei alleged he had been instructed to withdraw from the competition by Arash Miresmaeili and Reza Salehi Amiri, Presidents of the Iran Judo Federation and the National Olympic Committee of the Islamic Republic of Iran, respectively.

Miresmaeili, however, denounced the decision as a "cruel and a blatant betrayal".

Speaking at the awarding ceremony, Mollaei, the former world number one, said: "It has been difficult - very difficult months. 

"Being far from your family and not capable of at least talking with them freely is harsh. 

"But I keep going.

"I step in a new life, and try to cope with all difficulties.

"I come from a quite traditional society, from a traditional family.

"Now, I live in a modern society among people with a quite different culture, rules and behaviors. 

"Everything is different.

"But a sportsman learns to cope with situations and adapt oneself, and this is what I am doing."

Mollaei made his return to competition at the IJF Grand Slam in Japanese city Osaka last weekend, under the banner of the IJF Refugee Team, and was welcomed back with open arms by the judo family.

Prior to that, he had been training daily to help reach his dream of becoming an Olympic champion.

"Every morning I go to the gym, and I practice judo in the afternoon, six days per week," Mollaei said.

"I participated in a few competitions with my judo club and, thanks to the IJF, I could also participate in training camps."

For around 35 years, the Crans Montana Forum has been an exclusive meeting point for high-level decision makers from Governments and business who join the organisation in order to share experience, exchange ideas and network for their common interest.

The Forum is an International Non-Governmental Organisation and has been established since 1986.

Its mission is to move "towards a more humane world".

The Crans Montana Forum meeting in Brussels was dedicated to women in Africa.

"It is a strange feeling to be an Iranian man standing in front of you," Mollaei said.

"Men and women committed for years to fight against discrimination and to stand for equality between human beings. 

"A strange feeling for a man such as me, who has done no noteworthy civil or social action, who has no knowledge about politics. 

"I know nothing of these. 

"But I know this: Discrimination has no gender, defending equality needs courage, and sport teaches us to be courageous. 

"I am a sportsman, not a politician nor an activist.

"It is through sport, through the principles of sport that I am trying to fight for a better world. 

"You kindly welcomed me among you, I am honoured.

"I really appreciate it and thank each of you, and all organisers of Crans Montana Forum, especially Mr Jean-Paul Carteron. 

"I thank you from the bottom of my heart."