The safe arrival of Afghanistan’s Paralympic athletes in Tokyo sends out “a very strong message of hope”, says International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence.
Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli made it to Japan after leaving Kabul in a “major global operation”. They were welcomed to the athletes’ village by a party including IPC president Andrew Parsons.
“As you can imagine, the meeting was extremely emotional,” said Spence.
“There were lots of tears from everyone in the room. It really was a remarkable meeting.”
IPC Athletes’ Council chairperson Chelsey Gotell and the Afghanistan team’s chef de mission Arian Sadiqi were also part of the meeting.
Khudadadi and Rasouli were among thousands of people unable to leave Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power before the pair were evacuated.
“We never gave up hope,” said Parsons.
“We always knew there was a remote chance both athletes could participate at Tokyo 2020, which is why the Afghan flag was paraded at Tuesday’s opening ceremony.”
The flag of Afghanistan was held by a volunteer at the opening ceremony.