Afghan Paralympians to miss Tokyo 2020

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New Delhi, Aug 17 (IANS) Afghanistan’s Paralympic team will not participate in the Games in Tokyo next week because they are trapped in the country, confirmed the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

Just two para-athletes from Afghanistan were scheduled to compete in the Games — taekwondo player Zakia Khudadadi and track and field star Hossain Rasouli. The 23-year-old Zakia was to be the first woman ever to represent Afghanistan at the Paralympics.

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“Regrettably, NPC (National Paralympic Committee) Afghanistan will no longer participate in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games,” IPC spokesman Craig Spence was quoted as saying by aljazeera.com.

“Due to the serious ongoing situation in the country, all airports are closed and there is no way for them to travel to Tokyo.”

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It’s the first time Afghanistan won’t be represented at the Paralympics since the Sydney Games in 2000 – when the country was banned from competing due to the Taliban’s oppressive treatment of women.

“It was a dream for NPC Afghanistan to attend the Tokyo 2020 but with these unfortunate circumstances it’s close to impossible”, Afghanistan Paralympic’Committee’s Chef de Mission Arian Sadiqi, who is based in London, said on Twitter.

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Taliban forces have overrun major cities and now control most of Afghanistan. The hardline Islamist movement was ousted in 2001 but has again taken control of the country as foreign forces, led by the United States, withdrew.

–IANS

cs/bsk

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