After the roll call resumed by the NYT she is free with other athletes
Zakia made it. The first Afghan woman who should have participated in the Paralympics is free: now she still has time to do so, everything depends on her. Meanwhile, his life is safe. The taekwondo fighter no longer fears that the Taliban might knock on her door. Together with about fifty other athletes (mostly women), the 23-year-old from Herat province left Kabul airport thanks to the protection offered by the Australian government. Their plane – reports the website of the Australian broadcasting corporation (Abc) – took off for Dubai. Then the group will reach Sydney on humanitarian visas. It is not excluded that Afghan players may also be on board.
The rescue mission was coordinated by a small group of former athletes, including former Canadian Olympian and Sydney lawyer Nikki Dryden, who collected the files of the athletes at risk. Zakia’s was followed by the Italian Federtaekwondo, with president Angelo Cito, and by the Italian Paralympic Committee, led by Luca Pancalli. The work in collaboration with a Swiss NGO, under the direction of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), has led to asking governments to offer all possible help. The Fédération internationale des associations de footballeurs professionnels has also joined. The knowledge in the Australian government of the former footballer Craig Foster – who had already led similar international mobilizations – led to the turning point. In just three days Sidney agreed to offer his help. But accessing Kabul International Airport was not easy. Since the Taliban flag was raised on the palaces of power, the airport has transformed into a western fort besieged by desperate Afghans.
The Paralympics yesterday separated from the rest of the group, with the risk of losing the possibility of accessing the terminal. Twice they were rejected at the gates and Zakia, even with posts on social media, expressed all his desperation. But finally, with the intervention of the Australian government, they managed to gain access. And the girl’s happiness is all in a photo taken with her companions and the Australian military. Now he can look to the future with more serenity and, perhaps, not miss the possibility of taking part in the Taekwondo meetings, scheduled in Tokyo between 2 and 4 September, as a member of the refugee team. In the group of athletes, the Paralympic discus thrower Hossain Rasouli is also safe.
A week ago the Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced that Afghanistan, after the fall of Kabul, would not participate in the Paralympic Games. The following day, August 17, Arian Sadiqi, head of mission of the Afghan Paralympic Committee, had raised a cry of alarm. A few hours later the girl, contacted by ANSA, had addressed an appeal to the international community: «My family is in a very bad situation. We are all under the control of the Taliban and this is a great nightmare ». The fear was that with the explosion of her case the students of the Koranic schools could hunt her down. Then a thought of the hard work that has seen her busy in recent years, following the myth of Rohullah Nikpai, the only Afghan in history to have won medals at the Olympics, precisely in taekwondo. “I trained hard for the Olympics, but at the moment I don’t even have the security of life, let alone the competition.” Messages reaffirmed in a video, released the following day and also taken up by the New York Times. And that in a handful of days they made her have the salvation so much dreamed of.