Iran withdrew yesterday from the World Under-21 Championship, which begins tomorrow in Argentina, citing visa difficulties, after Iran was placed in the same group as Israel and the two teams were scheduled to play Saturday.

While the Iranians had told the tournament's organizers they would play any team, the reason for their withdrawal is believed to be their desire to avoid playing Israel.

The head of the Iranian Basketball Association Mahmoud Mashoun told the Iranian News Agency yesterday, "Nine days ago we submitted all the relevant documents to the Argentinian embassy in Iran, but for a reason not yet clear they did not arrange visas for us. We have reported the affair to FIBA."

At the Athens Olympics, Iranian judoka Arash Miresmaeili disqualified himself from competition by missing his weight when he was due to face Israeli Udi Vaks. Although the International Judo Federation investigated and concluded that he didn't miss his weight to avoid the bout, Miresmaeili, who declared that he would not meet Vaks as a gesture of sympathy with the Palestinians, was awarded $125,000 by the Iranian government, the amount gold medal winners receive.