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Three Afghans, including 2 women, chosen for Olympics Refugee Team



(Last Updated On: June 9, 2021)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday announced the names of the athletes who will represent the IOC Refugee Olympic Team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021 and three of them are Afghans.

The 29 athletes come from 11 countries, including Afghanistan, and were selected by the IOC’s Executive Board from an initial group of 55 IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holders.

“The refugee athletes are an enrichment for all of us in the entire Olympic community,” IOC President Thomas Bach said at the virtual ceremony from Lausanne.

“The reasons we created this team still exist. We have more forcibly displaced people in the world right now, and therefore it went without saying that we wanted to create an IOC Refugee Olympic Team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics”.

“The athletes represent not only themselves, not only the IOC, but also all refugees in the world,” IOC Refugee Olympic Team Chef de Mission Tegla Loroupe added. “Let’s bring solidarity, as we are solidarity people.

“Our universal language is sport, let’s go and bring joy.”

The three hard-working Afghan refugees, including two women, are Abdullah Sediqi (Taekwondo Men’s 68kg); Masomah Ali Zada (Cycling Women’s Road) and Nigara Shaheen (Judo Women’s Mixed team).

Sediqi is based in Belgium, Zada is in France and Shaheen is in Russia.

Abdullah Sediqi

Sediqi has relied on taekwondo to get him by since he was eight years old.

In an interview with the IOC recently Sediqi said the sport, which he now practises in Belgium, has been a guiding light through difficult times, first when escaping from his home country four years ago and then again through the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was a gruelling mission, there were days I walked for 12 hours straight,” he said of his escape.

Now established in Wilrijk, a neighbourhood of Antwerp, the 24-year-old is focusing on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this summer in 2021.

While Sediqi is fully focussed on his dream of going to the Olympic Games, the real world provided an emotional blow to him this past year.

In a recent interview with Taekwondo Vlaanderen (Flanders Taekwondo), he revealed that he was not able to see his mother before her death from coronavirus in Afghanistan.

“My mother died of coronavirus six months ago,” he said. “Her death was difficult for me – I had not seen her since my arrival in Belgium. Suddenly, you are told she is seriously ill; a while later she was gone.

Masomah Ali Zada

For Zada, it all changed when a French TV show aired called “Les Petites Reines de Kaboul” (“The Little Queens of Kabul”).

Along with her sister Zahra, the documentary showed the difficulties of cycling as a female in her home country.

“In Afghanistan, men think it’s unsuitable for a woman to ride a bike,” said Zada to France24.

According to the IOC, after watching the programme, a retired French lawyer called Patrick Communal arranged for them to come to France on a humanitarian visa and made a successful application for asylum.

“It’s very easy for men and women here to ride a bike,” Zada said.

Both sisters are enrolled at the University of Lille and Masomah Zada has been invited on the IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship programme.

Aged 24, she is training hard in northern France ahead of the Olympics.

“By taking part in the Olympic Games, I want to convince those who think a woman on a bicycle is inappropriate or find it strange that a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf is a cyclist that no, it’s normal,” Zada said to Paris Match.

Nigara Shaheen

Born in Afghanistan, Shaheen is a judoka competing in the under 70kg category.

She started practising judo when she was 11, living as a refugee in Peshawar, Pakistan, as practising martial arts was a family tradition.

She is studying international trade at a university in Ekaterinburg, in Russia, and is aiming to get her master’s degree.

As a member of the IJF Refugee Team, she participated in the Düsseldorf Grand Slam in 2020 and the Kazan Grand Slam in 2021.

The three Afghans will take their spots alongside the other refugee athletes for the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Games on 23 July 2021. The team will enter the brand new Japan National Stadium with the Olympic flag in second position, immediately after Greece.

The team will stay in the Olympic village, like all the other 206 National Olympic Committees taking part, and continue to receive IOC support after the Games.

For all official representations of the team (including possible medal ceremonies), the Olympic flag will be raised and the Olympic anthem will be played.

Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto Seiko said: “The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee welcomes the participation of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, following its debut at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

“The participation of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team in the Tokyo 2020 Games, which will be both a festival of sport and a celebration of peace, will draw the world’s attention to the issue of refugees and further advance efforts to achieve world peace through the elimination of the wars and conflicts that cause people to flee their homeland.”


Afghans eagerly gear up to watch their team face off against Scotland in T20 World Cup match



(Last Updated On: October 25, 2021)

Amid all their concerns and economic woes, Afghans have something to look forward to on Monday night when their national team take on Scotland in the ICC World Cup T20 tournament in the UAE.

The national cricket team is scheduled to face Scotland in their first official match at about 6.30pm Kabul time.

For Afghans in the country, the match can be viewed live on Ariana TV, which has the rights to broadcast the tournament. For online viewers click here to watch the match.

Cricket fans across the country have high hopes that their team will do well – especially as Afghanistan is ranked number eight in T20 cricket – and many said Monday that a win would bring some much needed joy to the nation amid trying times.

“In these difficult and anxious days, our only joy is this sport and we support the Afghan national cricket team and we hope that our players can achieve a good result for Afghanistan in these competitions,” said Zabiullah Zadran, a resident of Paktia.

“It is sports and athletes who bring happiness to the people, and we are very happy that our national cricket team qualified for the World Cup.” said Khaibar Sharifi, a resident of Kabul.

“I urge all cricket fans to pray for the victory of the Afghan national cricket team in the World Cup. It is a great honor for Afghanistan and a very happy time, we are a very upset people,” said Hayatullah Durani, another Kabul resident.

Meanwhile, national cricket team players say they will put every effort into the match in order to secure a win for their countrymen.

Mohammad Nabi, captain of the Afghan team, says currently, cricket is collectively the only source of happiness for Afghans. Nabi added that the team is in good spirits and that Afghans back home are hoping for a win.

“Afghans all talk a lot about the team squad on social media, and Inshallah (God willing), the players will try to shine well, also the team’s morale is very good,” Nabi added.

“In this round of the World Cup, we promise our compatriots to play [well and] display best performances,” said Najibullah Zadran, a national cricket team player.

Afghanistan, which was an automatic qualifier, is in the second group with Scotland, Pakistan, Namibia, India and New Zealand.

Ariana Television Network has broadcasting rights of the T20 Cricket World Cup, which is being co-hosted by Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

This is the Afghan team’s third appearance at the T20 World Cup but won only two matches at the 2016 event. This year, the team is looking to win more matches and progress further in the competition.

Already last week, Afghanistan beat reigning World Cup holders West Indies in a warm up match.


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Pakistanis euphoric after beating India in first World Cup win



(Last Updated On: October 25, 2021)

Firecrackers, blaring car horns and bursts of gunfire rang out across Pakistani cities on Sunday as cricket fans celebrated their first World Cup victory over arch rivals India, Reuters reported.

Shortly after captain Babar Azam and his partner Mohammad Rizwan sealed a crushing 10-wicket win in their Twenty20 World Cup group match in Dubai, cheers echoed from houses and apartment buildings.

“Congratulations to the Pakistan Team & esp(ecially) to Babar Azam who led from the front, as well as to the brilliant performances of Rizwan & Shaheen Afridi,” said Prime Minister Imran Khan, who led Pakistan to triumph in the one-day World Cup in 1992.

“The nation is proud of you all,” he tweeted.

His congratulations were echoed by the chief of the army staff, underlining the political symbolism of the win, Reuters reported.

According to the report the two neighbours have clashed repeatedly over the years, most recently in 2019 when Indian jets launched a raid into Pakistan over a militant attack in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 police.

On the field, however, players from both sides embraced and chatted warmly after the match.

In Pakistan’s largest city Karachi, fans poured onto the streets immediately after the final ball was bowled, waving Pakistani flags from motorcycles and car windows.

Pakistani media also reported loud celebrations in parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir, a Muslim majority region that has been at the heart of much of the tension between the two countries.

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Super 12 stage kicks off in T20 World Cup 2021



(Last Updated On: October 23, 2021)

The first round of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 came to a conclusion on Friday with 12 teams now moving into the Super 12 stage which got underway on Saturday.

The teams that made it out of the first round were Sri Lanka, Namibia, Scotland, and Bangladesh.

There are two groups for the stage – A & B – with six teams slotted in both groups. Afghanistan is in Group A and will face India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Scotland, and Namibia, while Group B has Australia, England, West Indies, South Africa, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

The Super 12 stage will follow a round-robin format where each team will square off against the other five. Following the Super 12 stage, the top two teams from each group will qualify for the semifinals.

The Super 12 stage started Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader in Group B. Australia play South Africa while defending champions, West Indies, take on England in the evening match.

Favorites, India, are set to play Pakistan on Sunday.

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