Afghan Paralympic Athlete Begs for Help to Leave Country

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Amid fear and turmoil in Afghanistan, the country’s two Paralympic athletes have been barred from traveling to the Games that begin next week in Tokyo.

A day after the Afghanistan Paralympic Committee announced that the two athletes would not participate because they had difficulty getting out of the country, one of them, taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi, posted a video pleading for help.

In a video released Tuesday from Kabul, Khudadadi said in a translation by Reuters: “I’m in jail inside the house right now. I can’t even get out of this house safely.”

“My intention is to attend the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Please take my hand and help me.”

Khudadadi would become the first Afghan woman to attend the Paralympic Games. The other team member is Hossain Rasouli, an athlete.

“No commercial flights,” said Andrew Parsons, Chairman of the International Paralympic Committee. told Reuters Wednesday. “We’ve all seen footage from the airport in Kabul. It became clear to us from the start that there would be no safe way to bring these athletes to Tokyo.”

“I saw the video message,” Parsons said. “It’s really sad and it really breaks my heart.”

Afghanistan has not had a large presence at the Paralympic Games, has never sent more than two athletes, and has never won a medal. The country had five athletes at the Tokyo Olympics, which ended on August 8.

Afghanistan’s only two Olympic medals, 2008 and 2012 came in taekwondo. Rohullah Nikpai’Khudadadi’s bronze medal win in 2012 impressed Khudadadi to get started in the sport, she told interviewers, in hopes of motivating and inspiring other female Paralympic athletes.

The future of sports in the country is uncertain under the Taliban, which banned women’s sports when they ruled the country from 1996 to 2001. Many of Afghanistan’s most promising athletes still do not live in the country.

even though it’s a sport shot badly During the war years, the country’s men’s cricket team thrived and is currently seventh in the world Twenty20 rankings. He will participate in the T20 World Cup to be held in the UAE in October.

but women did some gains, a point that Khudadadi alludes to in his video.

“Please I beg you all – especially all women and women’s organizations from around the world and the United Nations, not to allow the rights of a female Afghan citizen in the Paralympic movement to be taken away so easily,” she said.

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