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Taliban denies Afghanistan’s female athletes’ participation in Asian games

Taliban officials have refuted claims of Afghanistan’s female athletes participating in the upcoming Asian Games in China. They say the 133-member delegation dispatched to the event consists of male athletes.

Ahmadullah Wasiq, Afghanistan’s head of physical education and sport, responded to a September 6 Reuters report in a written statement to RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi that the claim of 17 female athletes on the team is untrue.

Reuters reported on a statement from Afghanistan’s National Olympic Committee on September 6, announcing the country’s plan to send “a female group sports team comprising a total of 17 phenomenal women athletes.” This team is set to compete in three sports: athletics, cycling, and volleyball.

Wasiq clarified that the statement quoted by Reuters regarding participation in the Asian Games, scheduled for September 23 to October 8 in Hangzhou, China, was not issued by the National Olympic Committee.

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, they have not fulfilled their promises. Instead, they have significantly restricted women’s rights to education and employment and even confined them to their homes.

As a result, female sports in the country have been severely suppressed, leading many prominent women athletes to flee Afghanistan.

In December, the International Olympic Committee told Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders that ensuring women and girls’ safe participation in sports was a prerequisite for the country’s inclusion in the 2024 Paris Games.

In a July report, UN experts declared that the condition of girls and women in Afghanistan is the world’s worst, highlighting that systematic restrictions on their rights may constitute “gender apartheid.”