Paralympic Games: Afghan turmoil shattering dreams of trapped athletes ‘heartbreaking’, says IPC chief

“There are no commercial flights. We have all seen the footage from the Kabul airport. It was clear to us from the start that there would be no safe way to try to bring these athletes. in Tokyo, ”said IPC Chairman Andrew Parsons. Reuters in an interview.

Amid the current turmoil in the country, the Afghan Paralympic Committee said on Monday that two Afghan athletes would be unable to attend the Games which begin on August 24.

Taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi and track athlete Hossain Rasouli were due to arrive in Tokyo on August 17.

In a video message, Khudadadi appealed for help on Tuesday as she sought to escape Kabul and rekindle her shattered dream of becoming the country’s first competitor at the Paralympic Games.

“I saw the video message. Seeing what is going on in Afghanistan and it shatters the dreams of one of our athletes, it’s really sad and it breaks my heart,” Parsons said.

Parsons added that the committee would work with the Afghan team to help them pursue their dream, including possibly competing in the Games in Paris in 2024.

But it is now “too early” to discuss the plans, he said.

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“It’s something that is going well, well, well, much more than sport. And we are primarily concerned in Afghanistan as a nation and with human beings, especially the women of that nation. I think that first, the nation must define its own destiny. “

Like the Olympics which ended earlier this month, the Tokyo Paralympic Games will generally be held without spectators, organizers said, as Japan expanded COVID-19 emergency measures in the capital and across the country. ‘other regions that will cross the Games.

The host city of Tokyo on Tuesday announced 4,377 new cases of coronavirus, after a record 5,773 on Friday.

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