Iran rejects entry visas for US women's badminton team

Iran Materials 4 February 2009 14:53 (UTC +04:00)

Iran denied entry visas for a US women's badminton team which was scheduled to come to Iran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said Wednesday.

The spokesman argued that the lengthy visa procedure made it impossible for the team to come to Tehran for a February tournament, reported dpa.

A crush of photographers and TV crews on Tuesday night rushed to the IKIA airport outside Tehran to cover the team's arrival via Dubai but were told by officials about the cancellation.

Some analysts said the move was a tit-for-tat action against the US for having several times denied Iranian athletes' entry into the US for international sports events, or for fingerprinting and interrogating them upon entry.

Tehran and Washington have had no diplomatic relations for nearly three decades.

During the tenure of President Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005), the two nations began to ease tensions through exchanges of sports teams such as the US wrestling team, which found a very warm welcome by the Iranian fans.

The initiative stopped during the presidency of George W Bush.