Tokyo Paralympics: Afghan athletes arrive at Games following evacuation

By Sports Desk August 28, 2021 335

Afghan athletes Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli arrived at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Village on Saturday after being evacuated from their homeland.

Khudadadi and Rasou had initially been unable to leave Afghanistan after the Taliban took control, but the pair managed to board a plane last weekend.

They spent the week at the National Institute of Sport Expertise and Performance in Paris prior to flying to the Japanese capital on Friday.

Khudadadi will become the first female athlete to represent Afghanistan at the Paralympics since the Athens 2004 Games when she competes in the K44 -49kg weight category in taekwondo next Thursday.

Rasouli was due to participate in the men's 100 metres T47 on Saturday, but will instead take his place in the heats of the 400m T47 athletics event next Friday.

International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons said: "Twelve days ago we were informed that the Afghan Paralympic Team could not travel to Tokyo, a move that broke the hearts of all involved in the Paralympic Movement and left both athletes devastated. 

"That announcement kickstarted a major global operation that led to their safe evacuation from Afghanistan, their recuperation by France, and now their safe arrival in Tokyo.

"We always knew there was a remote chance both athletes could participate at Tokyo 2020 which is why the Afghan flag was paraded at Tuesday's Opening Ceremony. Like all the athletes here at Tokyo 2020, we never gave up hope and to now have Zakia and Hossain in the Paralympic Village alongside 4,403 other Paralympians shows the remarkable power of sport to bring people together in peace.

"Our number one priority has and always will be the health and well-being of both athletes.  Over the last 12 days, Zakia and Hossain have continued to express their absolute desire to come and compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

"Thanks to the outstanding efforts of several Governments, the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, Human Rights for All, the French Paralympic Committee, the British Paralympic Association, World Taekwondo, Zakia and Hossain are now in Tokyo to fulfil their dreams, sending out a strong message of hope to many others around the world.

"We will continue to work closely with Zakia, Hossain and the team’s Chef de Mission to ensure they receive all the care and support they need both during and after the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games."

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Last modified on Saturday, 28 August 2021 12:57
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