Afghan athletes trapped in Kabul unable to compete in Paralympic Games

·2-min read
Photo credit: BEHROUZ MEHRI - Getty Images
Photo credit: BEHROUZ MEHRI - Getty Images

Afghanistan’s Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli will no longer be able to compete in the Paralympic Games due to start on 24 August as a result of the country’s ongoing turmoil.

Taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi had been due to fly to Japan on Monday, while track athlete Hossain Rasouli had been scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on 17 August.

However, as the Taliban seizes control of major cities and takes control of the country, it has become impossible for the athletes to leave.

In a statement to Reuters on Monday, the Afghanistan Paralympic Committee's London-based Chef de Mission Arian Sadiqi said: 'Unfortunately due to the current upheaval going on in Afghanistan the team could not leave Kabul in time.'

Sadiqi explained that the athletes had been trying to secure flights but prices had soared as the Taliban swept major cities. It then became impossible when thousands desperately attempted to flee Kabul airport.

Dreams shattered

Zakia Khudadadi would have been the first woman to represent Afghanistan at a Paralympic Games.

In a video message on Tuesday, Khudadadi made a desperate plea for help to escape her country.

IPC President Andrew Parsons told Reuters on Tuesday:

'I saw the video message. By seeing what's happening in Afghanistan and this is shattering the dreams of one of our athletes, it is really sad and it really breaks my heart.'

He added: 'It's something that goes way, way, way, way bigger than sports. And we are first concerned in Afghanistan as a nation and with the human beings, especially the female of that nation.

'I think first, the nation needs to define its own destiny.'

Parsons added that the committee would work with the Afghan team to support her pursuing her dream again.

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