Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
September 8, 2021
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has said that all of the Afghan national athletes from last month’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are “outside the country,” as international concerns mount over hard-line Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
“All athletes who participated at the Olympic and Paralympic Games at Tokyo 2020 are outside the country,” Bach said on September 8.
Bach said two Afghans hoping to qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics had also left the country.
He added that a “significant number of other members of the Olympic community in Afghanistan have received humanitarian visas and could leave the country.”
Western governments have scrambled to evacuate their own nationals as well as at-risk locals from Afghanistan since the militant fundamentalist group took control of Kabul after months of territorial gains as U.S.-led international troops withdrew.
A Taliban-led government began working on September 8 to replace a UN-backed administration amid early signs of a return to strictures on rights, media, and women reminiscent of the group’s brutal rule from 1996-2001.
The United States, Germany, Turkey, and other governments have warned that the Taliban must make good on pledges of an “inclusive” government and that doing otherwise threatens any claims to legitimacy.
Bach said the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee expressed initial concerns over the safety of its athletes a month ago, at the August 8 closing ceremonies for the Tokyo Games.
“It goes without saying, given the circumstances, that there was a special focus on women and girls in the Olympic community,” the IOC chief added.
A member of Afghanistan’s youth national soccer team, Zaki Anwari, was reportedly among several people whose grisly deaths shocked the world when desperate Afghans clung to departing U.S. military aircraft in the days before the Taliban marched into Kabul on August 15.
Based on reporting by AFP