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Afghan, Iranian Refugees To Compete At Tokyo Olympics


Masomah Ali Zada is one of three Afghan athletes who will join the team, which International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said “will send a powerful message of solidarity, resilience, and hope to the world.”

Three Afghans and three Iranians will be part of a refugee team of 29 athletes competing across 12 sports at next month's Tokyo Olympics.

The team, which will compete under the Olympic flag and include athletes from countries also including Syria, South Sudan, and Eritrea, was unveiled at a virtual ceremony on June 8.

Kimia Alizadeh, Iran's first female Olympic medalist when she won bronze in tae kwon do at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will be back for her second Olympic Games.

Alizadeh moved to Germany in early 2020 after she complained of being used by Iranian officials as a propaganda tool.

Also on the team are fellow Iranian canoe racer Saeid Fazloula, who reached Germany in 2015, and Hamoon Derafshipour, who won bronze at the 2018 Karate World Championships.

Derafshipour said he left for Canada in 2019 so that his wife could train him ahead of the Tokyo Games.

Three Afghan athletes -– Masomah Ali Zada (cycling), Nigara Shaheen (judo), and Abdullah Sediqi (tae kwon do) -- will also be part of the team that International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said “will send a powerful message of solidarity, resilience, and hope to the world.”

Zada, Shaheen, and Sediqi are based in France, Russia, and Belgium, respectively.

The athletes will march into the stadium during the opening ceremony of the July 23-August 8 Tokyo Olympics immediately after the team from Greece.

They were selected from a pool of 56, supported by Olympic scholarships from 13 countries.

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