British Envoy to Israel: Boycotts Are the Antithesis of Olympic Spirit

Matthew Gould comments come after World Jewish Congress calls for Iran to be banned from Olymic games due to its Israel boycott.

The British ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould said Wednesday that the U.K. discourages any boycotts in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, following the decision of an Iranian swimmer to pull out of a race against an Israeli at the world swimming championship in Shanghai.

"We very much hope that all countries will participate, and that there will be no boycotts against competing countries," Gould said in a statement. "Boycotts are the antithesis of the Olympic spirit."

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Gould also addressed the Knesset on Wednesday, and extended a warm welcome to Israeli students, businesspeople, sports fans, and Olympians to visit the U.K.

Marking one year to the 2010 London Olympic Games, Gould recalled the Munich massacre in the 1972 Summer Olympics, saying that "the world saw then they very worst in humanity."

Iranian athletes have long pulled out of international events when faced with an Israeli opponent, citing illness or inability to compete.

Most recently, an Iranian swimmer pulled out of a race that included Israeli Gal Nevo at the world swimming championships in Shanghai this week, claiming he was "tired and drowsy."

The same swimmer pulled out of a race against an Israeli at the 2008 Olympics, claiming he was ill.

The World Jewish Congress has called for Iran to be barred from taking part in the Olympics and other international sporting events until its athletes stop boycotting their Israeli counterparts.