U.S. Wrestlers Find They Have Passionate Fans in Iran

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The American Freestyle Wrestling team on Saturday in Tehran before returning to the United States.

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Arash Khamooshi for The New York Times

IMAM KHOMEINI AIRPORT, Iran — When the United States wrestling team arrived at 3 a.m. on Saturday at an airport hotel outside Iran’s capital, Tehran, staff members ordered out for pizza.

“We were all over the lobby, eating out of the boxes,” said Rich Bender, the executive director of Team USA. The wrestlers had just flown in from the western Iranian city of Kermanshah, where the team lost the Freestyle Wrestling World Cup to Iran, in a series of thrilling matches.

At a time of increasing tension between the countries, how were the athletes received and what did they think about Iran?

Kyle Snyder, an Olympic gold medalist, said his mother had been a bit worried when he told her he would travel to Iran. But he said the team was welcomed with nothing but friendliness.

“They gave us roses at the airport, brought our bags, everyone wanted to take selfies with us,” Mr. Snyder said. “This was the best tournament I have ever…

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