What is Imam Khomeini’s stand regarding champions and athletic sports? Had he made any recommendation to Iranian sportsmen to refrain from competing against foreigners?

Imam Khomeini in his speeches had frequently mentioned about the significance of sport and its constructive effects in the life of man.

Eulogizing the status of great athletes and champions he conducted that how the ethics of championship can lead man to spiritual self-training.

Imam himself during youth-hood was familiar with different types of traditional sports such as climbing, swimming, archery, wrestling, playing chaugan and horse riding.

The great founder of Islamic republic recommended Iranian sportsmen by physical training they should gain spiritual virtues and Excellency. Ethics and morality in sport, Imam explained, are superior to simply winning.

Unfortunately, because of the issues of imposed war there was not enough time for the great Imam to present his precious views on such activities as sport and its vast impact in removing social corruptions.

Therefore, he expected the champions of international competitions to convey the message of the oppressed to other nations across the globe.

The following extract explains Imam’s views on the status of sport and sportsmen in Islamic culture:

I am not an athlete, but I love athletes. I love the doers of good, although I am not one of them. I beseech God, the Most Blessed and Exalted, to grant greater success to you young people, who are the assets of this country and the source of hope for the nation and Islam, in doing sports in all human dimensions. (Sahifeh-ye Imam, vol. 16, p. 73

Regarding the second part of your question we have to say that Imam had never told Iranian sportsmen to refrain from competing against foreigners but his stance on a country like Israel is quite clear.

Recognition of Israel as an established country and confrontation with its champions, he believed, is to ignore the rights of Palestinian nation. We know that Imam always put emphasis on defending and preserving the rights of the oppressed across the world specifically the oppressed nation of Palestine.       

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