Iran bars Kyle Snyder, fellow U.S. wrestlers from this month's Freestyle World Cup

Iran has barred U.S. wrestlers, including Olympic gold medalist Kyle Snyder of Woodbine, from competing in this month's Freestyle World Cup in response to President Donald Trump's executive order forbidding visas for Iranians.

IRNA, the country's official news agency, quoted Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying a special committee reviewed the case of the U.S. wrestling team and "eventually the visit by the U.S. freestyle wrestling team was opposed."


The decision marks the first action taken by Iran in response to Trump's executive order banning visas for seven Muslim countries. Earlier this week, Iran said it would take retaliatory action.

Snyder said USA Wrestling officials told him Friday afternoon not to give up hope on going to the meet. The competition in the western Iranian city of Kermanshah is scheduled for Feb. 16-17.


"It's kind of a difficult situation, because at any moment, it could change," he said. "I was more hopeful early in the week, but it would be great if it happens. It's an important meet for us. It's an important meet for Iran. It's an important meet for the sport."

In a statement Friday afternoon, USA Wrestling said it had not received official notification of the ban from Iranian officials.

"If these reports are true, USA Wrestling is extremely disappointed about this, which we believe would be an unacceptable situation," the statement said. "Wrestling is about competition and goodwill through sport, and is no place for politics."

Snyder has never competed in Iran, a traditional wrestling hotbed, but he has faced Iranians in high-stakes matches and said political tensions between the countries are always far from the competitors' minds.

"Every Iranian I have come into contact with, there's a language barrier, but they've always been respectful to the U.S., and we've always been respectful to them," he said. "They're good people, every guy I've met."

He added that if the trip is salvaged, he would feel no reservations about traveling to Iran.

"If they grant access for us to go, I'm not worried about my safety," the Ohio State junior said a few hours before he was to wrestle against Penn State on Friday evening. "I don't think they would grant the access if that was an issue."

USA Wrestling had said early in the week it would send a team to the Freestyle World Cup, one of the sport's most prestigious international events. Snyder and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs were among those scheduled to compete.


Burroughs, his friend and Olympic teammate, expressed disappointment.

"These decisions, these executive decisions, are always so far beyond your reach," he told The Associated Press. "Like, you always feel like `Well, the presidency or these strict laws or these Muslim bans or whatever you like to call them, they'll never affect me.' This is one of the few times where something so personal has occurred. Almost like it [was] handed down from the president to us. It's a bummer."

Though the meet would generally receive little attention outside of wrestling circles, it has become global news as an early indicator of how Trump's policies might impact international athletic competitions. For example, some observers have said backlash could harm the United States' bid to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Los Angeles.

U.S. freestyle wrestlers have competed in Iran since the 1998 Takhti Cup in Tehran, which followed an absence of nearly 20 years. Since then, Americans have attended Iran-hosted wrestling competitions 15 times. The American athletes were warmly welcomed by cheerful Iranian spectators and sport centers were packed as they appeared on the mats to compete.

The Iranians, for their part, have made 16 visits to the U.S. as guests of USA Wrestling since the 1990s.

Tim Foley, a spokesman for United World Wrestling, the sport's international federation, said in an email to the AP that his group is "still working on a solution" and hopes to know more by early next week.


Wrestling is extremely popular in Iran and is rooted in an ancient practice of combining the sport with physical education and meditation.

"I love Iran. I love their people, and I don't get into politics," said Burroughs, who is coming off a disappointing performance at the recent Rio Olympics. "I wasn't going to make a political stance. I was going to compete."

Snyder said he did not feel qualified to opine on Trump's executive order. "I just don't know enough about it," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.