Paralympics: Afghan Athlete Khudadadi Makes Plea For Help

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Afghan athlete Zakia Khudadadi made a plea for help as she sought to escape Kabul and revive her dream of becoming the country’s first female competitor at a Paralympic Games in Japan.

The Afghanistan Paralympic Committee (APC) said on Monday the country’s two para-athletes would not be at the Games starting in Tokyo on August 24 due to turmoil following the Taliban’s takeover. The insurgents have overrun major cities and now control most of Afghanistan.

Para-taekwondo athlete Khodadadi said in a video message from Kabul that she felt “imprisoned” staying with extended family but unable to go outside with confidence to train, shop or check on others. Speaking in Farsi, she said she felt an additional burden to her relations who did not have enough food to feed their own children.

Image of Para-taekwondo athlete Zakai Khudadadi in a video message from Kabul

“I request from you all, that I am an Afghan woman and as a representative of Afghan women ask for you to help me,”Khudadadi said.“My intention is to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, please hold my hand and help me.”

“I urge you all, from the women around the globe, institutions for the protection of women, from all government organisations, to not let the rights of a female citizen of Afghanistan in the Paralympic movement to be taken away so easily.”

“The fact that we ourselves have lifted ourselves from this situation, that we have achieved so much, it cannot be taken lightly. I have suffered a lot, I don’t want my struggle to be in vain and without any results. Help me,” She added.

Khodadadi, 23, and track athlete Hossain Rasouli had been scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on Tuesday but were unable to fly out.

The Taliban told reporters at their first official news conference in Kabul on Tuesday that they would respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law.

The news conference came as the United States and Western allies evacuated diplomats and civilians and followed scenes of chaos at Kabul airport as Afghans desperate to flee the Taliban thronged to the terminal.

Chidi Nwoke/Reuters.

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