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IOC’s Bach says all Afghan Olympic athletes ‘out of’ country

/ 05:42 PM September 09, 2021
Afghanistan's flag bearer Kimia Yousofi and Afghanistan's flag bearer Farzad Mansouri lead the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Afghanistan’s flag bearer Kimia Yousofi and Afghanistan’s flag bearer Farzad Mansouri lead the delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

All Afghan athletes who competed in the recent Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, as well as two hoping to qualify for the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, are “outside the country,” International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said Wednesday.

The new Taliban interim government began work in Afghanistan on Wednesday, after the militant group ousted the US-backed administration on August 15.

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Bach said the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee had already expressed concerns for its athletes on August 8, the day of the Tokyo Olympics closing ceremony.

“All athletes who participated at the Olympic and Paralympic Games at Tokyo 2020 are outside the country,” he told reporters.

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“Two winter sport athletes are also outside the country and continue training, hoping to qualify for Beijing.”

“It goes without saying, given the circumstances, that there was a special focus on women and girls in the Olympic community,” Bach added.

He also said a “significant number of other members of the Olympic community in Afghanistan have received humanitarian visas and could leave the country.”

Notorious for their brutal and oppressive rule from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban had promised a more inclusive government this time.

However, all the top positions in the interim government were handed to key leaders from the movement and the Haqqani network — the most violent faction of the Taliban known for devastating attacks.

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