Afghan flag flown at Paralympics in solidarity

Afghan flag flown at Paralympics in solidarity, as two athletes miss the games
2 min read
24 August, 2021
The flag of Afghanistan was flown during the opening ceremony of the Paralympics in Tokyo to show solidarity to the athletes who couldn't make the games due to the Taliban takeover.
The flag of Afghanistan was brought out in solidarity to the athletes who couldn't attend the games [Getty]

The flag of Afghanistan was flown during the opening ceremony of the Paralympics in Tokyo to show solidarity with athletes who couldn't make the games due to the Taliban takeover.

Only two athletes from Afghanistan were slated to compete, para-taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi and discus thrower Hossain Rasouli, but they could not travel to Tokyo after the Taliban took control of Kabul one week ago.

Rasouli had lost his left arm in a mine explosion, and it would have been his first time competing at the Paralympics.

Zakia Khudadadi could not compete in the games as she - along with several other female athletes - were evacuated from Afghanistan with the help of Olympian Nikki Dryden, who works as a human rights lawyer, and Alison Battisson, the director of Human Rights for All.

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Khudadadi had taken to Facebook in a desperate plea to help her get out of the country - and to Tokyo.

"My family is based in Herat city where all of the city is captured by the Taliban. Currently, I reside with my extended family members in Kabul who do not have enough food to feed their own children; and I am an additional burden on them," she said in the video.

"I request from you all, that I am an Afghan woman and on behalf of all Afghan women, to help me. My intention is to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, please hold my hand and help me!"

"Please, I request you all - especially all the women from around the globe and the female institutions and the United Nations to not let the right of a female citizen of Afghanistan in the Paralympic movement to be taken away, so easily.

The flag of Afghanistan during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games [Getty]
The flag of Afghanistan during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games [Getty]

"I have struggled a lot to get here, this in itself is a great achievement and not to be taken lightly. I don't want my struggle to be in vain and without any results. Help me!"

Following a painstaking cross-continent campaign, which included liaising with multiple governments and human rights organisations, 50 Afghan athletes and dependents were evacuated from Afghanistan and taken to Australia.

Football officials are trying to evacuate players from Afghanistan after concerns were raised about the safety of female players in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. A former captain of the Afghan women's football team urged players to delete their social media accounts, erase public identities, and burn their kits for safety.