The two Afghan athletes who were evacuated from their country and arrived in Tokyo on the eve to participate in the Paralympic Games will not attend the media during the competition “for safety reasons and for their well-being”, as announced by the International Paralympic Committee (ICC).
The taekwondo player Zakia Khudadadi and the athlete Hossain Rasouli arrived in the Japanese capital from France the day before, Where they traveled from Afghanistan last Monday after being evacuated from the country in “a global operation” that had the collaboration of the governments of France and the United Kingdom, among other countries, and several NGOs, according to the CPI.
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The evacuation of the athletes and their transfer to Tokyo “has been one of the most complex situations” that the International Paralympic Committee has had to manage, according to the spokesman of this organization, Craig Spence, said today at a press conference held this Sunday in Tokyo.
The ICC had previously ruled out the participation of the two athletes in Tokyo due to the difficult situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power, and at the opening ceremony of the Paralympics last Tuesday, he paraded the Afghan flag without any athlete from that country “as a sign of solidarity.”
The parathletes were finally able to travel to Tokyo “after having continuously expressed their desire to participate in the Paralympics”, and after having received assistance in France and continued with his sports training in that country.
With the aim of “protecting the physical and mental integrity of athletes”, the ICC has decided that athletes “will not speak to the media during the Paralympics”, not even in the mixed zone after competitions, contrary to what is usual in these events.
In addition, the two athletes they have stated that they do not want to speak to journalistsaccording to Spence, who nonetheless pointed out that “they will listen to your wishes” if they change their minds in the next few days.
“The last thing they want right now is to be asked multiple questions about what’s going on or about their future.or, and it is our duty to respect their wishes, “said the CPI spokesman.
Upon arrival at the Paralympic Village in Tokyo on Saturday night, and after undergoing the protocol coronavirus tests for all arrivals in Japan, the two athletes were received by the president of the CPI, Andrew Parsons, and the president of the Council of Athletes of the CPI, Chelsey Gotell.
The meeting was “extremely emotional” and resulted in “many tears” among the participants, Spence said, adding that the athletes were also emotionally received by international athletes at the Paralympic Village.
Both athletes “They expressed their enormous gratitude for being in Tokyo and for the opportunity to compete”, and his presence at the Paralympics “sends a strong message of hope to everyone,” according to the spokesman.
The athlete Rasouli, whose specialty is the 100 meters, has chosen to compete in the long jump, which will be held at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, and because the speed test has already taken place, Spence explained.
Taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi will compete in the K44 under 49kg category on Thursday.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.