All Afghan athletes who participated in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are now “outside the country,” International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said on Wednesday, as reported by Reuters.
Two potential 2022 Winter Olympians, as well as a “significant number of other members of the Olympic community in Afghanistan” have also left on humanitarian visas, which Bach said they obtained with help from the IOC. The IOC will also offer scholarships to all of the Tokyo participants to continue training.
“It goes without saying, given the circumstances, that there was a special focus on women and girls in the Olympic community,” Bach said.
The Afghanistan National Olympic Committee “expressed initial concerns over the safety of its athletes” at the Tokyo Olympics Closing Ceremony on Aug. 8, Bach said. On Aug. 19, it was announced that national youth soccer team player Zaki Anwari died when he fell from an American military plane some civilians had clung to in an attempt to escape.
In the wake of the Taliban takeover in August, it looked as though Afghanistan’s two Tokyo Paralympians — Zakia Khudadadi, a taekwondo athlete, and Hossain Rasouli, a track athlete — would not be able to leave the country and compete. But within two weeks, the International Paralympic Committee announced that they were able to be evacuated to France and then moved to Tokyo.
On Aug. 23, ABC reported that a group of female athletes from Afghanistan had made it to Australia.
This year, Fahim Anwari became the first swimmer to represent Afghanistan at an Olympics, going a 27.67 in the 50-meter free heats. The nation sent five athletes total to the Tokyo Olympics: two in track & field, one in shooting, and one in taekwondo, in addition to Anwari.
Afghanistan has sent a delegation to 15 Summer Olympics, earning two bronze medals, and has never sent athletes to the Winter Games.