Players from the two nations became friends on the flight to Los Angeles.
Israeli athlete Alon Dolev (left) and Iranian trainer Yaser Tahmasbi (right) are pictured here. Photo courtesy of the Israeli Delegation to the Special Olympics.
Although the Israeli and Iranian Special Olympics teams came to Los Angeles in search of athletic achievement, they ended up modelling a heartwarming example of sports diplomacy—before even landing in California. As the two otherwise conflicting nations made headlines in the dispute over the proposed America-backed Iranian nuclear deal, by some stroke of cosmic irony, the Israeli and Iranian teams ended up on the same transatlantic flight to California from Rome. But if anyone expected the members of these two teams to act out the political animosity between their governments, they would have been grossly mistaken. Instead, the Iranian and Israeli athletes became friends.