Tokyo Paralympics: Afghanistan athletes to compete in Games after evacuation

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Aug 29, 2021, 07:03 AM(IST)

Zakia Khudadadi Photograph:( Reuters )

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Paralympic officials had said initially that the Afghan athletes would be unable to attend the Games

Two athletes from Afghanistan finally arrived in Tokyo on Saturday (August 28) to participate in the ongoing Paralympics Games after one of them made a video appeal for help to leave Kabul so she could take part in the Games. 

Taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi and discus thrower Hossain Rasouli were evacuated from the Afghan capital a week ago and landed in Tokyo on a flight from Paris, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said in a statement.

When they reached Tokyo, they were tested for COVID-19 before being taken to the athletes' village. 

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"Through their participation in the Games and performances on the field-of-play, the athletes call for hope, peace and solidarity for the people of Afghanistan and the world," the IPC said.

The athletes were due to arrive in Tokyo on August 17 but they could not travel to Japan after the Taliban took control over the country, routing government forces. 

They had missed the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games on Tuesday (August 24), however, their country's flag was carried during the event, spreading a "message of solidarity and peace". 

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"I request from you all, that I am an Afghan woman and as a representative of Afghan women ask for you to help me," Khudadadi said in her video appeal, which was sent to Reuters by the Afghanistan Paralympic Committee.

Paralympic officials had said initially that the Afghan athletes would be unable to attend the Games and promised to help them participate in the next Games in 2024 in Paris.

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"That announcement kickstarted a major global operation that led to their safe evacuation from Afghanistan ... and now their safe arrival in Tokyo," IPC President Andrew Parsons said in a separate statement.

Khudadadi, Afghanistan's first female athlete at the Paralympic Games since Athens 2004, is due to compete in the women's Taekwondo event on September 2.

Rasouli will participate in the heats of the men's 400 metres the following day, the IPC said.

(inputs from agencies)

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