Afghan Paralympian Zakia Khudadadi Requests Help to Escape Country Amid Turmoil

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIAugust 17, 2021

A banner promoting the Tokyo 2020 Olympics hands on the facade of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Tokyo. Not even the Summer Olympics could withstand the force of the new coronavirus. After weeks of hedging, the IOC took the unprecedented step of postponing the world's biggest sporting event, a global extravaganza that's been cemented into the calendar for more than a century. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Zakia Khudadadi, a taekwondoka who was set to become Afghanistan's first female Paralympian, has asked for help to travel to Tokyo amid the Taliban's takeover of her home country.

Afghanistan Paralympic Committee London-based Chef de Mission Arian Sadiqi provided video to Reuters of Khudadadi's plea. Iain Axon relayed her comments, which said in part:

"I request from you all, that I am an Afghan woman and as a representative of Afghan women ask for you to help me.
"My intention is to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, please hold my hand and help me.
"I urge you all, from the women around the globe, institutions for the protection of women, from all government organisations, to not let the rights of a female citizen of Afghanistan in the Paralympic movement to be taken away so easily.
"The fact that we ourselves have lifted ourselves from this situation, that we have achieved so much, it cannot be taken lightly. I have suffered a lot, I don’t want my struggle to be in vain and without any results. Help me."

Khudadadi and track and field athlete Hossain Rasouli were slated to become Afghanistan's two representatives in the Paralympic Games.

They were set to arrive in Tokyo on Tuesday, but the APC said Monday that neither would be traveling to the Games due to the current turmoil in Afghanistan.

Joseph Krauss of the Associated Press summarized the situation in the country.

"The Taliban have seized power in Afghanistan two weeks before the U.S. was set to complete its troop withdrawal after a costly two-decade war.
"The insurgents stormed across the country, capturing all major cities in a matter of days, as Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the U.S. and its allies melted away."

He added:

"The Taliban, a militant group that ran the country in the late 1990s, have again taken control.
"The U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 ousted the insurgents from power, but they never left. After they blitzed across the country in recent days, the Western-backed government that has run the country for 20 years collapsed. Afghans, fearing for the future, raced to the airport, one of the last routes out of the country."

Per Owen Lloyd of insidethegames.biz, Khudadadi was going to compete in the women's K44 under-49 kilograms event. Her accomplishments include winning the first African Para Taekwondo Championships in 2016 as an 18-year-old.