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Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Afghanistan's first female para athlete is unable to compete at Tokyo Paralympics

Amidst brewing turmoil with the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, Zakia Khudadadi's hopes of becoming the first Afghani female Paralympian have been crushed.

First woman para athlete from Afghanistan Zakia Khudadadi

Zakia Khudadadi (Source: Afghanistan NPC)


Sohinee Basu

Updated: 19 Aug 2021 9:11 AM GMT

The stirring state of unrest in Afghanistan with the Taliban forces re-assuming power over the last few days are taking a heavy toll - both in the State as well as globally and with it comes the death of hopes and dreams.

Conditions in Afghanistan have taken a turn for the utter worst with the Taliban troops taking over the capital, Kabul and already starting their atrocious acts that is seeing a rise in rampant deaths in the Afghan state.

Given such situations, it has now become impossible for the hopeful 2-member team for Tokyo Paralympics to represent their nation at the Games. Zakia Khudadadi, a taekwondo fighter, was aiming to become the first woman para athlete at the Games from Afghanistan.

She would have been joined by Hossain Rasouli, who is a discus thrower, and together they would have set sail for the Japanese capital - but this is no longer to be as the deep brewing trouble in the country has put their very survival at risk, let alone the thought and feasibility of participating in the Games.

With the Taliban asserting their power, the airports have also been closed, making commercial travel a nightmare. Citizens are in a mad scramble to flee the state and horrific images and videos have surfaced as they try to escape the bitter reality.

On Monday, it was made known that neither Zakia nor Rasouli have been able to board the plane to Tokyo, given the airport situation, and will therefore have to give up on a dream they have nurtured for the last few years.

The Afghan chef de mission, Arian Sadiqi, said Zakia and Rasouli had been set to arrive in Tokyo on Tuesday. "Unfortunately due to the current upheaval going on in Afghanistan the team could not leave Kabul in time," Sadiqi told Reuters.

Zakia's hope to be an inspiration in Afghanistan have been dashed

Ahead of the Tokyo Paralympics, Zakia had naturally nurtured hopes to become the first-ever para woman athlete to represent her nation at the stage of the Paralympics. The taekwondo athlete was looking forward to playing under the flag of Afghanistan in Tokyo.

"They were really excited prior to the situation. They were training wherever they could, in the parks and back gardens," Sadiqi said. "This would have been the first female Afghan taekwondo player to take part. This was history in the making. She was very passionate about competing. Zakia would have been a great role model for the rest of the females in the country," Sadiqui conveyed disheartenedly to Reuters.

As Zakia's dream stands crushed because of the Taliban upheaval, this development is cause for a greater worry for the whole nation and especially its female citizens.

The Taliban rule is extremely oppressive and does not allow women to have any kind of freedom - sports is a far-fetched thought. After the fall of Kabul and with the Taliban back in the seat of power, for now, things look most scary for women.

"Previously during the Taliban era people couldn't compete, couldn't participate, especially female athletes. For me, it's heartbreaking," Sadiqui mentioned, indicating the terrible times that might soon befall them, as the whole of the Afghanistan contingent pulled out of the Tokyo Paralympics.

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