Middle East

How Iranians view the Olympics

Iran Olympic team at Beijing in 2008

The BBC's Persian service asked Iranians around the world to give their opinions on the Olympics Games, which opens in London on Friday.

From the political problems which have stopped Iranian athletes competing against their Israeli counterparts on the Olympic stage, to the hurdles women face to compete, to the dream of an Olympics held in their homeland, Iranians gave their personal views about the Games.

Women's participation in sport

Maryam, from Hormozgan, Iran: I played volleyball for 15 years when I was young. I wish I could take part in the Olympics but because of family prejudice, especially from my father, I couldn't even attend sport camps. Attending the Olympics wouldn't go with his beliefs. I was not even allowed to attend the World Games in Iran.

Image caption Iran's women Olympians in 2012 include rower Solmaz Abbasi

Iranian families, especially fathers, are very sensitive towards what their daughters do. This prejudice still exists in Iran. Very few girls are allowed to attend, for instance, a final which takes place in a province other than the one they reside in. In the Islamic Republic, men are more encouraged to do sports. But even for men there is not much encouragement.

There are so many problems to deal with that makes sports not that important. No one cares for sports, apart from football, and I don't really know why that is.

Maryam, from Iran: I work as a football referee. It's not like women are not successful. The fact that Iranian women attend the Olympics is a success for Iranian women's sports.

But the fact that they are not getting good results is because their lack of other games and tournaments, gaining experience and knowing their competitors. One of the problems in Iran is that male coaches cannot attend women's exercises. In every other country and in all the games, there are men coaches... but unfortunately we don't get that in Iran.

I would like the Iranians to win, get medals, although the colour of the medal doesn't really matter for us. In wrestling, boxing and Taekwondo, I think we have a good chance of winning.

Playing against Israeli athletes

Ehsan, from Tehran, Iran: Regarding Iranian players avoiding playing Israelis, I should say that sports not only has health effects, it has social effects as well.

Image caption Iranian athletes have never competed against Israelis at the Games

It doesn't seem like it is always the Iranian athletes who do not want to compete with Israelis, at least not in all cases. As no Iranian has ever competed with an Israeli, it shows a pressure from above. Or maybe it is the fear that if an athlete takes part in those games they might be removed from the national team. So they do not compete, even if their competitor is not very strong.

I think when the Arabs, the Palestinians, accepted Israel I don't think it is right that we do not acknowledge the country.

Masoud, from England: About Iran not playing with Israel, I think it is hard to say whose decision it is. Sometimes it is the player but sometimes it is pressure from the government. The government doesn't approve competing with Israelis because it does not recognise Israel. I think this is normal.

Even the US, which says the games should no be political, in 1980 it didn't go to Moscow. And in 1984 the USSR didn't go to USA. So it is political, and other countries do it as well.

The Olympics in Iran

Behnam, from Germany: I have been living in Germany for more than 20 years, and whoever has done sports in their life wishes to attend the Olympics, even as a member of the audience. I would do my best to attend the Olympic games.

I think every Iranian would wish that Iran would host the Olympics sometime. I think it has not hosted it because it is not the policy of our government, they do not want it to happen. Olympics is for everyone, for men and women.

We can not hold Olympics only for men in our country that's why our government doesn't want it to happen in Iran.

Image caption Will Tehran ever hold the Olympic Games?

Rasoul, from Madrid: If Iran hosted the Olympic games, it would definitely benefit Iranian society.

I will never forget when the Asian games happened in Iran before the regime change. It was organised beautifully and everyone appreciated it. It didn't have any negative effect on Iranian society.

I hope that all our athletes in all the games, gain gold medals and I also hope that one day we could see Olympic games in Iran. But unfortunately considering the situation right now, and the foreign policy of the Iranian government, then how can we go there and perform in swimming?

Iran's sporting federations

Alireza, from London: I was managing the the foreign affairs committee of the Wushu [Chinese martial art] Federation for a year. Mismanagement in sports federations might be the biggest reason for the Iranians not succeeding in the games.

One of the most import points which may be crucial is the lack of seeking out new talent. Some one might be very talented in a sport but they will not be recognised.

The committees which are sent to different provinces on behalf of the federations are not evaluated. And those committees do not consider the priorities when recommending people. Their priorities are based on their taste and their relations. They train a family member with no credibility for six months and send them to the games. And the mere fact that this person has attended an international game or a tournament, even if he doesn't win, is a success for them.