Iran’s sole female Olympic medallist Alizadeh defects citing political hypocrisy

Kimia Alizadeh, Olympic medallist, 2016 Rio Olympics, 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Ukrainian jetliner, Boeing 737
Alizadeh, who won a bronze medal in taekwondo at the 2016 Rio Olympics, cited oppression by authorities in the Islamic republic. File Photo: PTI

Citing Iran’s political “hypocrisy”, the country’s only female Olympic medallist Kimia Alizadeh Zonoozi on Saturday (January 11) announced that she has permanently left her country, claiming that the system humiliates athletes while using them for political ends.

“Should I start with hello, goodbye, or condolences?” she expressed herself on Instagram, as Iran reeled from Wednesday’s accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner that killed all 176 people on-board.

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Alizadeh, who won a bronze medal in taekwondo at the 2016 Rio Olympics, cited oppression by authorities in the Islamic republic.

Criticising Iran’s political system for “hypocrisy”, “lying”, “injustice” and “flattery”, she said she wanted nothing more than “taekwondo, security and, a happy and healthy life”.

“I am one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran with whom they have been playing for years,” the 21-year-old wrote.

Also read: ‘Unintentionally’ shot down Ukrainian jetliner, says Iran; Kiev seeks indemnity

“I wore whatever they told me to wear,” she said, referring to the Islamic veil, which is compulsory for all women in public in Iran.

“I repeated everything they told me to say,” she wrote.

She continued: “None of us matter to them.” “No one invited me to Europe,” she wrote, without saying where she was.

On Thursday, news of Alizadeh’s disappearance shocked the country.

Iranian parliamentarian Abdolkarim Hosseinzadeh had demanded answers, accusing

“incompetent officials” of allowing Irans “human capital to flee” the country.

The semi-official ISNA news agency carried a report on Thursday saying: “Shock for Iran’s taekwondo. Kimia Alizadeh has emigrated to The Netherlands.”

ISNA wrote that it believed that Alizadeh, who is reportedly training in The Netherlands, is hoping to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but not under the Iranian flag.

Without saying anything of her plans, Alizadeh assured the “dear Iranian people” that she would remain “a child of Iran wherever” she is.

(With inputs from agencies)

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