While the 2020 Olympic Games have already wrapped up, the Paralympic Games in Tokyo are just preparing to start. While not always related to the pool, SwimSwam will be looking at some of the top sources of news coming out of the Games, such as the fact that no spectators will be allowed at any of the events.
Afghanistan Athletes Forced to Withdraw from Paralympic Games
As Afghanistan has fallen into political turmoil, the nation’s two athletes that were set to compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo have been forced to withdraw from the competition because they cannot get flights out of the country. Zakia Khudadadi was set to compete in taekwondo and Hossain Rasouli was entered in track. Khudadadi was going to be the first female athlete to ever represent the country at the Paralympic Games.
Craig Spence, a spokesman for the International Paralympic Committee, said:
“Regrettably, NPC (National Paralympic Committee) Afghanistan will no longer participate in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Due to the serious ongoing situation in the country, all airports are closed and there is no way for them to travel to Tokyo.”
According to the Afghanistan Paralympic Committee’s Chef de Mission Arian Sadiqi, the athletes explored multiple other avenues of travel in order to reach Tokyo as initially planned. Both athletes tried to arrange flights out of the country but were unable to as the Taliban took over cities across the country, raising travel costs.
Since the initial news that the pair wouldn’t be able to compete in Tokyo, Khudadadi has released a video explaining her situation and asking for help from outside her country to allow her to be able to compete at the Paralympic Games.
“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.”
Defending Paralympic Champion Rob Davies Pulls Out of Games
Rob Davies, the class 1 gold medalist in table tennis at the 2016 Games in Rio, has withdrawn from the 2020 Games due to a shoulder injury.
“I’m obviously very disappointed,” Davies said in a statement. “Winning gold in Rio was one of my proudest moments and I was looking forward to defending my title and competing in my third Paralympic Games, but injury is part of sport and I’ll now focus on regaining my fitness ahead of the World Championships next year.”
Davies was originally a part of a group of 12 athletes set to represent Great Britain in table tennis. Even without Davies, who won’t be replaced on the team, the country will be returning an accomplished roster. The team will include three medalists from five years ago, with Will Bayley having claimed gold and Ross Wilson and Aaron McKibbin both having won bronze.
IOC President Thomas Bach Set to Attend Paralympics Opening Ceremony
While Thomas Bach is the head of the International Olympic Committee and not the International Paralympic Committee, it has been reported that he will be arriving in Tokyo in order to attend the Paralympic Games opening ceremony on August 23rd.
Five years ago, during the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Bach became the first president of the IOC in 32 years to not be in attendance for the opening ceremony. Despite the fact that Bach was attending the mourning ceremony for former West Germany President Walter Scheel, the decision still created speculation of possible tensions between the IOC and IPC.
Bach left Tokyo following the conclusion of the Olympic Games, but not without drawing criticism before his departure. While multiple Olympic athletes were sanctioned for leaving the Olympic Village following the conclusion of their competitions, Bach was seen exploring the Ginza shopping district prior to leaving the city.