Unsafe to bring Afghan athletes to Paralympics, says Games chief

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International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons has arrived in Tokyo ahead of next week's Games, with the opening ceremony on Tuesday
International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons has arrived in Tokyo ahead of next week's Games, with the opening ceremony on Tuesday

From James Toney in Tokyo

Paralympic officials have conceded there is no safe way to bring Afghan athletes to the Games - despite their desperate pleas.

Afghanistan's chef de mission Arian Sadiqi, who is based in Great Britain, had begged the international community to help Hossain Rasouli and Zakia Khudadadi get to Tokyo.

Khudadadi was due to be the first woman to represent Afghanistan when para-taekwondo makes its Games debut.

However, International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons conceded there was no way to do this safely.

He said: "We are assessing the situation and so far we believe that at the moment, we don't have a way to bring the Afghani athletes to Tokyo in a safe way for them, in a way that will preserve their safety.

"We believe it is now time to focus on them as human beings and we want to guarantee that they are safe.

"It will put them at a higher risk if we try to bring them to compete in Tokyo."

Khudadadi released a video earlier this week pleading for the chance to attend the Games, claiming she is 'imprisoned inside the house'. She is currently staying with relatives in Kabul after the Taliban captured the Afghan capital.

"I'm very disappointed, devastated, that nothing is being done to help these athletes," said Sadiqi.

"History will record that the world just sat and watched the news on television, rather than helping these two athletes from Afghanistan achieve their dreams."

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