Though their home-based athletes and representatives could not make it to Tokyo for the Paralympic Games, Afghanistan’s flag was carried as part of the Opening Ceremony parade here on Tuesday. Zakia Khudadadi, who is the first female athlete from Afghanistan to qualify for the Paralympic Games in taekwondo, and some National Paralympic Committee (NPC) officials could not make it to the Games because of the chaos in the country after the Taliban ousted the elected government and took control of the country. Flights to and from the country are not operational following the regime change and that was one of the reasons why the team could not make it to Tokyo.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) decided to include the Afghanistan flag in solidarity with the athletes who were denied a chance to participate in the Paralympic Games.
The IPC has invited the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative here to act as the flag bearer.
IPC president Andrew Parsons said the decision was to send a message of “solidarity and peace” around the world.
“It is an act of solidarity. We decided this yesterday in the Board meeting. It is important to highlight that as it is a message of solidarity and peace that we send to the world,” said Parsons at a press briefing before the opening ceremony.
“We would like to have them here, unfortunately, it is not possible, but they will be here in spirit,” he added.