Saeid Mollaei is set to represent Mongolia at Tokyo 2020 after defecting from Iran ©Getty Images

Iranian former world judo champion Saeid Mollaei has been cleared to represent Mongolia at Tokyo 2020 after his switch of allegiance was approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board.

The IOC's ruling body gave the green light to Mollaei's change of nationality from refugee status to Mongolia here today.

Mollaei defected from Iran after being ordered to throw his semi-final at last year's World Judo Championships rather than set up a potential clash with Israeli rival Sagi Muki, in a case which led to the country being suspended by the International Judo Federation (IJF).

The 28-year-old was granted asylum in Germany after Iran threatened him and his family if he did not withdraw or deliberately lose his semi-final at the event in Tokyo in August, before he was granted permission to compete for Mongolia at major events by the IJF.

Mollaei, the 2018 world champion in the under-81 kilograms category, made his debut for Mongolia at the IJF World Judo Masters in Qingdao in December.

He competed briefly as a refugee after the IJF said he could not return to his country and amid concerns over the safety of his family.

Saeid Mollaei, white, made his debut for Mongolia at an IJF event in China in December ©Getty Images
Saeid Mollaei, white, made his debut for Mongolia at an IJF event in China in December ©Getty Images

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 (NOCIRI) respectively.

It prompted the IJF to officially suspend the country and that sanction remains in place, meaning Iran may be barred from competing in the sport at Tokyo 2020.

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

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has repeatedly praised athletes who have refused to face opponents from Israel.

Since its Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has refused to recognise Israel.

Despite the involvement of the NOCIRI, Iran has not been suspended by the IOC.

IOC President Thomas Bach claimed in January the NOCIRI had promised to "in future fully comply with the Olympic Charter".

Iran sent a similar letter to the IJF copied to the IOC, in May of last year, where the nation vowed to end its decades-long boycott against Israeli athletes.

Mollaei's change was one of 11 approved by the IOC's ruling body.

Among the others was cyclist Olga Zabelinskaya, who served an 18-month doping ban, from Russia to Uzbekistan.

The three-times Olympic medallist, nearly blocked from competing at Rio 2016 after the IOC attempted to ban any Russian athlete who had served a doping suspension, could represent her new country at Tokyo 2020.