Afghan female taekwondo athlete likely to compete in Tokyo Paralympics: officials

August 25, 2021

A disabled female Afghan taekwondo player is expected to travel to Tokyo soon to compete in this year’s Paralympic Games thanks to outside help after having apparently been blocked from leaving the war-torn country, sports officials in Seoul said Wednesday.

According to the officials informed about para taekwondo circles, Zakia Khudadadi, 23, has successfully fled Kabul, along with disabled Afghan discus thrower Hossain Rasouli, 24, with the help of the Australian government.

The officials told Yonhap News Agency that the two Afghan athletes are currently staying in a European country and plan to travel to Tokyo.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) also confirmed they have safely left their home country but refused to elaborate on their whereabouts for safety reasons.

“Efforts have been made to remove them from Afghanistan. They are now in a safe place,” IPC spokesman Craig Spence said in a press conference the same day. “I’m not going to tell you where they are, because this isn’t about sport. This is about human life and keeping people safe.”

The 2020 Paralympic Games kicked off in Tokyo with the opening ceremony Tuesday. The IPC is reportedly in discussions with the relevant sports associations and other concerned authorities to allow the Afghan athletes to take part in the Paralympics.

Kudadadi was originally scheduled to leave Kabul on Aug. 16 to travel to Japan. But the Afghanistan Paralympic Committee announced earlier this week that Khudadadi and Rasouli would not be able to attend the Tokyo Games, as a result of the country’s ongoing turmoil.

Khudadadi plans to compete in the women’s K44 -49kg event, scheduled to begin Sept. 2. If Khudadadi actually competes in the event, she will become Afghanistan’s first female Paralympic athlete.