IMAGE: Kimia Yousofi of Afghanistan in action during the women’s 100m preliminary round at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, on July 29, 2021. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters
Afghanistan’s Olympic committee said it will send 17 female athletes to compete in three sports at the Asian Games in China later this month.
Female sport in Afghanistan has been crushed since the Taliban took over from a Western-backed government in August 2021, causing many prominent women to flee the country for fear of persecution.
The Taliban went on to drastically limit women’s freedoms and rights, including banning women and girls from the country’s education system, in what the UN has said could amount to a crime against humanity.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) also warned Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers in December that allowing women and young girls safe access to sport was a condition for the country’s representation at the 2024 Paris Games.
“Afghanistan will shine brightly as it proudly boasts the highest number of female athletes ever to grace the Asian Games stage,” Afghanistan’s NOC said in a statement on Tuesday.
“NOC Afghanistan will field a female group sports team comprising a total of 17 phenomenal women athletes and dedicated team officials across three disciplines: athletics, cycling and volleyball.”
The Afghan NOC added that three scholarships had been awarded to female athletes, “paving the way for their remarkable journeys towards the illustrious Paris 2024 Olympics”.
The Asian Games in Hangzhou will be held from September 23 to October 8.