This past week, the Iranian government reversed their decision to deny visas to the United States Wrestling Team before an upcoming tournament. The Freestyle World Cup, taking place February 16-17, is one of the most respected in the sport, and is a tournament that the Iranians have won five years running. The Iranian government originally denied visas to members of the United States delegation as a “reciprocal measure” against Trump’s executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim majority countries, a list that includes Iran. Although they said they would allow anyone from the United States with a previously issued valid visa to enter Iran, they decided against issuing new visas. Per CNN, that decision was reversed when U.S. District Senior Judge James L. Robart of Seattle, Washington halted President Trump’s executive order, and multiple wrestling organizations reached out to try and resolve the issue. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made the announcement via Twitter, President Trump’s favorite form of communication, saying that “following the court ruling suspending #MuslimBan & the requests from Iranian Wrestling Federation & FILA, U.S. Wrestlers’ visa will be granted.”
The short-lived bump in the road for the team is the first in a normally cordial relationship between the U.S. and Iranian wrestling bodies. According to CNN, the U.S. team has visited Iran 15 times and the Iranian team has visited the U.S. 16 times since 1990. According to the Team USA webpage, it is one of many relationships that the U.S. Wrestling Team has with “nations that may not have a strong relationship between their governments.” The website points out that the team wrestled in the Soviet Union during the Cold War and in Cuba multiple times since the Cuban Revolution.