Afghan Olympians who faced risk in their home country following the Taliban takeover have now been successfully relocated to Australia, according to a statement by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC). The AOC said that the five Afghan families having ties to the Olympics have arrived safely in the nation following the 12-month-long project.
In total, 31 people have been relocated to the country to date. AOC Chief Executive Officer Matt Carroll, in her statement said, “These brave people have endured significant hardship and we are so pleased that our efforts have been successful. Many have spent time in locations outside Afghanistan and it’s wonderful to now have them on Australian soil . All arrived happy, if exhausted”.
Afghanistan athletes arrive in Australia
The families who arrived included Kimia Yousofi, who was Afghanistan’s flag-bearer at the Tokyo Olympics, and the Asian Games medalist in taekwondo Ahmad Abasy who is also a campaigner for women’s sports rights. Two families with strong connections to Olympic volleyball have also been relocated. Earlier 31 family members had arrived in Australia in June.
Yousofi, who arrived with her mother and one of her three brothers, is excited to start a new life and also aims to compete in the 2024 Olympics in Paris. She said, “It’s been a journey for me but I am very happy to be here. I am essentially starting a new life here. I am going to be training very hard and it would be exciting to go to Paris – I am definitely going to be competing. Thank you to the government of Australia and the Australian Olympic Committee and everyone for helping to get my family here.”
Ahmad Abasy, who has competed internationally and coached in taekwondo, said the girls and women of his country were being “denied the right to sports.” He said, “Sport is the natural right of every human being, regardless of their gender. Unfortunately, now in Afghanistan, sports have a gender perspective and girls are denied the right to sports. This is a great loss for the sport of Afghanistan and the world.”
He added, “Afghan girls have good talent in sports and have made significant achievements in the sports sector that should not be ignored. I believe that it is not enough for girls to participate in sports only in parks and sports clubs. Afghan girls should actively participate in international competitions, and we will witness one of the Afghan girls winning a world Olympic medal. I will fight for their rights,”.
AOC aims to provide educational and employment opportunities to Afghan families
Carroll, in her statement, further said that efforts are being taken to look at employment and educational opportunities for Afghan refugees and to provide them with shopping vouchers and clothing packages. She said, “We enjoyed significant support from the federal government, current and previous, while our Olympic sports are mobilized to support those families involved in their respective sports. We are looking at employment and educational opportunities and of course, each family is looking to integrate into the Australian community and find appropriate accommodation.
Carroll added, “Our sponsors have provided shopping vouchers and support packages of clothing and other items. While there have been some stressful and uncertain times over the last 12 months for the families, we never gave up and the result has been a happy outcome and a demonstration of Olympic Solidarity,”