Saturday 21 August 2021
‘Praying for their lives’
Big concern for Afghan female athletes
Fariba Rezaei made Afghan sport history when she became the country’s first female Olympic athlete in 2004. Now the judoka and women’s suffrage specialist must watch from afar as her country returns to Taliban control. With dire consequences, not only but also for their successors.
Afghan Olympic champion Fariba Rezaei is also deeply concerned about the athletes in her home country. Rezaei, who now lives in Canada, who started judo as Afghanistan’s first woman at the 2004 Games in Athens, said in an interview with CNN.
The founder of Tomorrow’s Leaders, which fights for women’s rights in Afghanistan, is in constant contact with women who fear for their lives after the Taliban came to power. “They are also sending me messages and calling for their lives and their safety. All these human rights and women’s rights activists want to flee the country,” said the 35-year-old. “Recently the Afghan women players were visiting a dojo (judo training hall). They were holding hands. They were hugging each other. They were also kissing mats because it was the last time they saw them and that was the last day of her freedom.”
Rezaei is also working on a project to send an Afghan judoka to the 2024 Summer Games in Paris, thus appealing to international sports federations to support Afghan athletes. Despite the painful news and TV images, Rezai does not lose hope. “My message to Afghan women in Afghanistan is to stay strong,” she said. “This is a nightmare, but nightmares don’t last long.” “We will get through this. If nothing else is left, we will become a resistance group. We will fight for our rights no matter what.”
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