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US wrestlers banned from Iran world cup in response to Trump policy

Iran has banned US wrestlers from participating in this month's Freestyle World Cup competition in response to Donald Trump's executive order forbidding visas for Iranians, according to a news agency.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi was quoted by the official IRNA agency as saying a special committee reviewed the case and "eventually the visit by the US freestyle wrestling team was opposed".

The decision marks the first action taken by Iran in response to US President Mr Trump's executive order banning visas for seven Muslim countries.

Earlier this week, Iran said it would take retaliatory action.

Mr Ghasemi said the policy of the new US administration left Iran no other choice but to ban the wrestlers.

The competition in the western Iranian city of Kermanshah is scheduled for February 16 and 17.

USA Wrestling had said it would send a team to the Freestyle World Cup, one of the most prestigious competitions in international wrestling.

US freestyle wrestlers have competed in Iran since the 1998 Takhti Cup in Tehran following an absence of nearly 20 years.

Since then, Americans have attended Iran-hosted wrestling competitions 15 times.

Iranians, for their part, have made 16 visits to the US as guests of USA Wrestling since the 1990s.

The American athletes were warmly welcomed by Iranians and sport centres were packed as they appeared on the mats to compete.

Wrestling is extremely popular in Iran and is rooted in an ancient practice of combining the sport with other physical education and meditation.

AP

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