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Afghan athletes full harrowing journey to reach in Tokyo for 2021 Paralympics

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Afghan athletes Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli have arrived in Tokyo, by way of what’s been described as a harrowing journey from Kabul to Paris, to compete within the Paralympics.

For now, they’re sequestered within the Paralympics Village alongside Tokyo Bay and won’t be out there for media interviews throughout their keep — earlier than or after they compete. And the place they go after the Video games shut on Sept. 5 is unclear.

The Worldwide Paralympic Committee mentioned they arrived in Tokyo from Paris early on Saturday night, having handed all of the required COVID-19 exams to enter Japan. IPC spokesman Craig Spence mentioned they’d want just a few days to get their bearing and wanted some privateness.

“This is a really complex situation, one of the most complex we’ve ever been involved in,” Spence told a briefing Sunday. “So what we can say is limited. Human life is the most important thing here. Having the athletes here isn’t about getting media coverage. It’s about these athletes fulfilling their dream of being able to attend the Paralympic Games.”

Spence didn’t say how they acquired out of Kabul, however talked about the assistance of a number of governments and different companies. He had mentioned for a number of days that the IPC was monitoring their whereabouts, and on the opening ceremony on Aug. 24, a volunteer carried an Afghan flag to signify the absent crew.

The addition of the Afghan crew implies that 163 delegations are collaborating, which features a refugee crew.

“We always knew there was a remote chance both athletes could participate at Tokyo 2020 which is why the Afghan flag was paraded at the Opening Ceremony,” IPC President Andrew Parsons said in a statement from the IPC.

“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.”

Khudadadi would be the first feminine Afghan athlete to compete within the Paralympics since 2004. She’s going to problem within the ladies’s 44-49-kilogram weight class in taekwondo on Thursday.

Missed first race

Rasouli has a more durable street.

He was to run the 100-meters within the T47 class, however arrived too late for that. So organizers positioned him in a 400-meter race for subsequent Friday. Apparently, he was not enthused about that selection, which Spence revealed in quoting Rasouli.

“Look, I’m a 100-meters sprinter. Doing 400 is going to be pretty exhausting,” Spence quoted Rasouli as saying.

Instead, he’s been entered in Tuesday’s long jump in the T47 class — and without much practice.

The question of asylum hangs in the air and will they return to Paris?

“That is a question that will be open to the athletes to choose,” Spence mentioned.

“We’ve an obligation to guard these athletes,” Spence added. “And that starts with their welfare and their mental health. The last thing they want at the moment is to be asked multiple questions about what’s going on, or the future.”

Spence choked back tears a few times as he described a meeting on Saturday evening at the Paralympic Village with Khudadadi and Rasouli, IPC President Parsons, and other officials.

“As you can imagine the meeting was extremely emotional,” Spence said. “There have been a number of tears from everybody within the room. To truly see them in individual — they’re really right here — was exceptional.”


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