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

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(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.”

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Olympics: Afghan taekwondo athlete defeated by Korean rival

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(Last Updated On: July 27, 2021)

Farzad Mansouri, the national taekwondo athlete was beaten on Tuesday by his Korean rival.

The points tally ended at 13-12 in Korea’s favor.

Mansouri took part in the 80+ kg weight category. The Afghan was ahead of this rival until the last seconds few seconds of the event.

Should the Korean make it to finals in this weight category, Mansouri will have a chance to battle it out for the bronze medal.

On Sunday Mahdi Yavari, scored 601.4 points in the first round of the 10 meter rifle shooting event at the Olympics but failed to make it through to the next round.

Shooters from China, United States, Slovakia, Turkey, Russia, Hungary and China advanced to the final eight.

A new Olympic record was however set by the Chinese contestant who scored 632.7 points. The previous record was set by Italy with 630.2 points in 2016.

This was the first time that Afghanistan has taken part in the shooting event.

The Tokyo Olympics opened on Friday afternoon with a ceremony reflecting a Games like no other, walking a fine line between celebrating the feats of the world’s best athletes while acknowledging the global hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Games run until August 8.

About 11,000 athletes from 204 national Olympic committees are expected, including a team of refugee athletes. Afghanistan is represented by five athletes and another three Afghans are part of the refugee team.

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Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Afghanistan’s Yavari falls out in first round of shooting event

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(Last Updated On: July 25, 2021)

The Afghanistan National Olympic Committee said Sunday Mahdi Yavari, scored 601.4 points in the first round of the 10 meter rifle shooting event at the Olympics but failed to make it through to the next round.

Shooters from China, United States, Slovakia, Turkey, Russia, Hungary and China advanced to the final eight.

A new Olympic record was however set by the Chinese contestant who scored 632.7 points. The previous record was set by Italy with 630.2 points in 2016.

This was the first time however that Afghanistan has taken part in the shooting event.

The Tokyo Olympics opened on Friday afternoon with a ceremony reflecting a Games like no other, walking a fine line between celebrating the feats of the world’s best athletes while acknowledging the global hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Games run until August 8.

About 11,000 athletes from 204 national Olympic committees are expected, including a team of refugee athletes. Afghanistan is represented by five athletes and another three Afghans are part of the refugee team.

Meanwhile, Dr Ehsanullah Bayat, Chairman of Afghan Wireless Communication Company, Ariana Television Network, Ariana News and Bayat Power, attended the opening ceremony in Tokyo as a special guest.

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Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Slimmed-down opening ceremony reflects pandemic-hit Tokyo Games

Ariana News

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(Last Updated On: July 23, 2021)

The Tokyo Olympics opened on Friday afternoon with a ceremony reflecting a Games like no other, walking a fine line between celebrating the feats of the world’s best athletes while acknowledging the global hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.

Postponed for a year, organisers were forced to take the unprecedented step of holding the Games without fans as the pandemic continues to take lives around the world.

Even the opening ceremony, normally a star-studded display teeming with celebrities, was attended by fewer than 1,000 people.

Regardless, it marks a coming together of the world, with an audience of hundreds of millions around the globe and at various stages of the pandemic expected to tune into together to watch the start of the greatest show in sport.

When Tokyo was picked as Games host in 2013, crowds screamed themselves hoarse with joy but in 2020 the coronavirus struck, with lockdowns forcing the unprecedented postponement only four months before the Games were supposed to open, while scandals and problems plagued preparations.

The opening took place without the usual mass choreography, huge props and the cornucopia of dancers, actors and lights associated with past celebrations.

A vastly smaller number of athletes also marched in the teams’ parade, with many planning to fly in just before their competitions and leave shortly after to avoid infections.

Only 15 global leaders are in attendance, along with Japanese Emperor Naruhito, who will formally open the Games as his grandfather Hirohito did in 1964, and U.S. First Lady Jill Biden.

The Games run until August 8.

About 11,000 athletes from 204 national Olympic committees are expected, including a team of refugee athletes. Afghanistan is represented by five athletes and another three Afghans are part of the refugee team.

Meanwhile, Dr Ehsanullah Bayat, Chairman of Afghan Wireless Communication Company, Ariana Television Network, Ariana News and Bayat Power, attended the opening ceremony in Tokyo as a special guest.

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