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Afghanistan's Paralympic Team Forced To Withdraw From Tokyo Games

Max Sherry

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| Last updated 

Afghanistan's Paralympic Team Forced To Withdraw From Tokyo Games

Turmoil in Afghanistan means the country's Paralympic team is unable to compete and have therefore withdrawn from the Tokyo Games.

Following the withdrawal of Western military after a 20-year war, the Taliban have acted fast and have now swept through the region at a rapid rate, bringing fear back to the people of Afghanistan.

The unrest around the country, especially in the capital of Kabul, has forced many citizens to flee for their safety.

The Taliban takeover also means that taekwondo stars Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli will have their life ambitions of competing at a Paralympic Games shattered almost overnight.

23-year-old Khudadadi, one of only two Afghan athletes set to travel to Tokyo, was poised to become the first woman in history to represent her country at the Paralympics.

Now, her dreams have been put on hold - perhaps for the long-run too.

"Regrettably NPC (National Paralympic Committee) Afghanistan will no longer participate in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games," International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence said.

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

"We hope the team and officials remain safe and well during this difficult time."

The devastating news of Afghanistan's withdrawal from the Games comes just a week after both Khudadadi and Rasouli featured on the International Paralympic Committee's official website.

The mantra of Afghanistan's chef de mission Arian Sadiqi was simple: "to deliver the message of coexistence for humanity".

Now neither will be granted the opportunity to fulfil that.

United States President Joe Biden. Credit: PA
United States President Joe Biden. Credit: PA

With the Taliban tightening its stranglehold on the nation, the rest of the world is left waiting to see just how it plays out.

But judging by US president Joe Biden's recent comments, he doesn't seem too fond of the idea of sending returning troops back in the other direction anytime soon.

"I stand squarely behind my decision," Biden said of his decision to end the conflict.

"After 20 years, I've learned the hard way that there was never a good time withdraw US forces."

"I'm deeply saddened by the facts we now face. But I do not regret my decision to end America's war fighting in Afghanistan.

"American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.

"How many more generations of America's daughters and sons would you have me send to fight Afghanistan's civil war when Afghan troops will not? How many more lives, American lives, is it worth, how many endless rows of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery?

"I'm now the fourth American president to preside over war in Afghanistan - two Democrats and two Republicans. I will not pass this responsibility onto a fifth President."

Featured Image Credit: International Paralympic Committee

Topics: tokyo paralympics, Paralympics, Australia

Max Sherry
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