Iran says its volleyball team was delayed for hours at a US airport

Foreign ministry official files complaint

By Hamdi Alkhshali, Marlena Baldacci and Geneva Sands, CNN
Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images via CNN

Members of the Iranian volleyball team pictured in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

Iran filed a diplomatic protest against the United States on Monday after its national men's volleyball team experienced a "prolonged delay" at a Chicago airport, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.

The top Iranian foreign ministry official for US affairs, Mohsen Baharvand, filed the complaint through the Swiss ambassador to Tehran -- which represents US interests in Iran, as the country has no diplomatic relations with Washington.

Baharvand said if the US cannot host sports teams fairly and unbiased, it would be better to avoid hosting sports events, IRNA reported.

The team was delayed for four hours on its way to the Volleyball Nations League tournament in Chicago, IRNA said.

The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) said in a statement that it was "aware of and concerned by the reported issues encountered by the Iranian National Volleyball team," adding that "whilst many of the Iranian delegation were not detained for an unusual period, those that were are understandably upset."

US Customs and Border Protection spokesman Steve Bansbach told CNN in a statement that "normal CBP procedures were followed and everyone was processed without incident" at O'Hare Airport.

The complaint comes at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the US. Tehran has begun increasing uranium enrichment, after US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal and re-introduced economic sanctions in 2018.

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