Tokyo Paralympic Games: Arrival of Afghan Paralympians Sends “Message of Hope”

A volunteer carried the Afghan flag during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympic Games

The safe arrival of Afghan Paralympic athletes in Tokyo sends “a very strong message of hope,” said Craig Spence, spokesperson for the International Paralympic Committee.

Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli visited Japan after leaving Kabul in a “great global operation”.

They were greeted at the Athletes’ Village by a group including IPC President Andrew Parsons.

“As you can imagine, the meeting was extremely emotional,” said Spence.

“There were a lot of tears from everyone in the room. It was truly a remarkable meeting.”

IPC Athletes Council President Chelsey Gotell and Team Afghanistan Chef de Mission Arian Sadiqi also attended the meeting.

Khudadadi and Rasouli were among thousands unable to leave Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power before the two men were evacuated.

“We never gave up hope,” Parsons said.

“We always knew there was a slim chance that the two athletes could compete in Tokyo 2020, which is why the Afghan flag was paraded during the opening ceremony on Tuesday.”

The flag of Afghanistan was held by a volunteer during the opening ceremony.

The IPC said the couple were in a safe place on Wednesday. Parsons has since revealed that they spent a week in France at the National Institute of Sports Expertise and Performance, the high performance training center of the French Ministry of Sports, en route to Japan.

“Twelve days ago we were informed that the Afghan Paralympic team could not make it to Tokyo, a decision that broke the hearts of everyone involved in the Paralympic movement and left both athletes devastated,” Parsons said.

“This announcement kicked off a major global operation that led to their safe evacuation from Afghanistan, their recovery by France and now their safe arrival in Tokyo.

“Our number one priority has been and always will be the health and well-being of both athletes.”

“Throughout and in the future, the most important thing is the physical and mental well-being of Zakia and Hossain. They will have the full support of the Paralympic family while they are with us, ”added IPC Athlete Council President Chelsey Gotell.

Khudadadi, 23, will be the first woman to represent Afghanistan at the Paralympic Games.

She will compete in the women’s K44 -49 kg weight class on Thursday, while Rasouli will line up in the playoffs in the men’s T47 400m track and field on Friday.

Around the BBC iPlayer bannerAround the BBC iPlayer footer

Add a Comment