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Iran’s only female Olympic medalist reportedly defects

FILE: Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin.

FILE: Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

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Iran’s only woman Olympic medalist said she defected from the Islamic Republic and fled to the Netherlands in an online letter that describes herself as “one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran.” Taekwondo athlete Kimia Alizadeh accused Iranian officials of sexism and mistreatment.

“Whatever they said, I wore,” Ms. Alizadeh wrote in the letter posted Saturday. “Every sentence they ordered, I repeated.”

She described the decision to leave Iran as difficult, but necessary.

There was no immediate reaction from Iranian authorities. ISNA said Ms. Alizadeh had been reported injured and unable to compete. Their report suggested Ms. Alizadeh may try to compete under another nation’s flag at the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo.

Ms. Alizadeh, 21, won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

In recent years, many Iranian athletes have left their country, citing government pressure. In September, Saeed Mollaei, an Iranian judoka, left the country for Germany. He said Iranian officials had forced him to not compete with Israeli judoka.

Alireza Faghani, an Iranian international soccer referee, also left Iran for Australia last year.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 2:45:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/irans-only-female-olympic-medalist-reportedly-defects/article30551456.ece

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