Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs felt a number of emotions when he learned Friday morning that the U.S. wrestling team has been barred by Iran from competing at a meet there in two weeks.
Iran’s announcement came in response to President Donald Trump‘s executive order forbidding visas for Iranians.
“Bummed, first and foremost,” Burroughs, whose last meet was the Rio Olympics, said by phone Friday morning. “I just wanted to compete. It’s been a while since I competed. I was excited to return to the mat. This was going to be a prestigious event that I got to do with my team members.”
Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio after gold in London, still believed on Thursday that the U.S. would be sending a team to the Freestyle World Cup in Kermanshah, Iran, from Feb. 16-17.
U.S. coach Bill Zadick told him on Thursday that everything was going according to plan. Flights were booked. Singlets were made. Burroughs was scheduled to travel Wednesday.
“Not only is this costly in terms of our training and competition schedule, but this is expensive,” Burroughs said. “This is an expensive lesson learned to buy 20 tickets to Iran, have them revoked and probably no reimbursement.”
Burroughs looked forward to competing in Iran, where wrestling is a national sport. Iran earned a combined 11 wrestling medals at the last two Olympics, its most of any sport, despite entering zero women’s wrestlers.
“There is such a common respect for wrestlers in Iran,” Burroughs said. “They love wrestling. They’re huge fans of mine. I’m bummed about that. I really wanted to be part of something great in what I consider a great country. Obviously, my views and our country’s views are different.”
The U.S. has sent wrestlers to meets in Iran a total of 15 times since 1998, with Burroughs part of the contingent at the 2013 Freestyle World Cup in Tehran.
“No one out there — Donald Trump or the prime minister of Iran — is purposely slighting the U.S. wrestling team,” Burroughs said. “This is a much bigger picture and a much bigger story than our wrestling tournaments, but I’m bummed because I think this was a great opportunity for us to show goodwill toward them by coming into a country where our governments may have opposed each other.”Follow @nzaccardi