PARIS: Iran has sentenced to death a local boxing champion over his role in 2019 protests, activists said, expressing fear that another athlete risks execution after a wrestler was put to death. The death sentence issued against Mohammad Javad Vafaei-Sani comes just over a year after the execution of wrestling champion Navid Afkari in September 2020, which prompted an international outcry and calls for Iran to be barred from sporting events. The Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) NGO said that Vafaei-Sani, 26, was sentenced to death after being convicted of arson and destruction of government buildings. He had been detained in February 2020 and one of the charges against him was taking part in protests in November 2019 sparked by a sudden fuel price rise, it said. His lawyer Babak Paknia confirmed the verdict on Twitter and announced plans to appeal to the supreme court. IHR described Vafaei-Sani as a “champion” boxer in the eastern city of Mashhad where he was currently being held. Social media users urged the authorities to save his life, with the hashtag #SaveMohammadJavad trending on Twitter.