Farhad Qaemi, Bardia Sa’adat and Mohammad-Taher Vadi were omitted by Russian head coach Vladimir Alekno Iran’s volleyball squad for the Tokyo Olympics.
Qaemi, who had announced his international retirement in March, was named in the 19-man squad last week but was reportedly left out due to lack of match fitness.
Sa’adat and Vadi were two of the youngsters breaking into the first team under Alekno at the recently-finished Volleyball Nations League (VNL) in Italy but will have to wait at least three years for their first Olympic campaign.
“I respect the head coach’s decision,” Sa’adat said upon his omission, adding, “I just want to thank Alekno for giving the opportunity to play for the senior team.”
Alekno, who had only took charge of the Asian powerhouse in mid-April, led Iran to a below-par 12th spot in the 16-team VNL table.
However, the introduction of some new faces as well as a proper mixture of youth and experienced players offered glimpses of hope for the Olympics under the Russian, who enjoys a glittering record with his home country at the Games, having won the gold in 2012 following a bronze medal in Beijing 2008.
Iran – a quarterfinalist in Rio 2016 – is pitted in Pool A of the volleyball contests in Tokyo against the host nation Japan, Poland, Italy – the silver medalist in Rio – Canada, and Venezuela.
Pool B will see the defending champion Brazil, USA, Russia, Argentina, France, and Tunisia squaring off for four spots in the quarterfinals.
The Tokyo Olympics, postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, will kick off in the Japanese capital on July 23.