A new campaign launched by Iranian human rights advocates and athletes has joined the calls to ban Iran from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, following the state execution of wrestler Navid Afkari.
Women's rights campaigner Masih Alinejad took to social media to promote the new campaign with the hashtag #United4Navid.
Afkari's death prompted a huge outcry in sport with claims he was tortured into making a false confession over an alleged murder.
"We've launched a new campaign: #United4Navid," said Alinejad on Twitter.
"Gold medal athletes from Iran's national teams join human rights activists.
"We're calling on international sporting federations and [International] Olympic Committee (IOC) to suspend Islamic Republic of Iran from sporting events for killing #NavidAfkari."
United4Navid posted videos on its website of Iranians calling for their home nation to be suspended by the IOC and the world football governing body, FIFA.
Those included in the campaign include Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, former Iranian kickboxing champion Majid Fallah and former Iranian Greco-Roman national coach Sardar Pashaei.
1-We've launched a new campaign: #United4Navid. Gold-medal athletes from Iran’s national teams join human rights activists. We’re calling on international sporting federations & Olympic Committee to suspend Islamic Republic of Iran from sporting events for killing #NavidAfkari pic.twitter.com/HGuwLMMqR3— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 9, 2020
Iran's record with "discrimination against women, including female athletes who have faced numerous restrictions" was also raised as a major concern.
In his video, Pashaei said: "In Iran, Kurdish, Baloutch, Arab, Sunni, Bahai and even female athletes face systemic discrimination.
"I personally witnessed Iranian authorities forcing athletes to refuse to compete with Israeli athletes.
"Athletes who take part in civil disobedience protests in the streets are arrested, tortured and even executed, especially the innocent young athlete, Navid Afkari.
"I ask where else in the world is a young athlete arrested, tortured and hanged?"
The 27-year-old national champion Afkari was executed on September 12, over an alleged murder of an intelligence security officer during a protest against the Government in 2018.
It is alleged that he was unjustly targeted by the Iranian authorities to intimidate others who might choose to participate in peaceful protests.
"What happened to Navid is typical of the brutal manner the regime deals with protests," said United4Afkari.
"More than 7,000 people were arrested only in the 2019 demonstrations.
"Amnesty International just published a detailed and painful report of torture and physical abuse of these demonstrators.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran violates the spirit of sports, abuses the nation's athletes, and discriminates against its own people for ideological reasons.
"Women are banned from attending sporting events.
2-Sardar Pashaei is a former wrestling coach from Iran’s National Team & gold medal. As a coach, he helped many athletes obtain gold medals in international events. He explains why the Islamic Republic of Iran must be suspended from international tournaments#United4Navid pic.twitter.com/ZqVOgOaLmi— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 9, 2020
"Last year, Sahar Khodayari, a young woman who faced a court trial for attending a match dressed up as a man, doused herself with gasoline and set herself on fire.
"Moreover, Iranian athletes are ordered to purposely lose in competitions to avoid facing their Israeli counterparts.
"Such a ban by the IOC and other sporting bodies has a precedence.
"In 1964, the IOC banned South Africa from the Olympic Games due to apartheid – FIFA also followed suit in the subsequent years.
"Lack of action in the face of egregious human rights violations by the Islamic Republic would send a wrong message to Iranians.
"It would mean that Iranian lives do not matter."
Despite opposition, IOC vice-president John Coates has hinted that the IOC will not ban Iran from the Games, saying it was difficult for them as his execution was not related to a sporting event.
A total of 55 nations around the world have the death penalty, including the United States, China and the Olympic hosts, Japan.
The Cato Institute ranked Iran 154th out of 162 in the Human Freedom Index of 2019.