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Iran's sole female Olympic medallist defects

12 January 2020, MVT 20:59
(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 26, 2016 Keivan Alizadeh (R) the father of Kimia Alizadeh who became the first Iranian woman ever to win an Olympic medal, shows her medal upon her arrival at Imam Khomeini International Airport in tcapital Tehran. (Photo by peyman / ISNA / AFP)
12 January 2020, MVT 20:59

Iran's only female Olympic medallist Kimia Alizadeh announced Saturday she has permanently left her country, citing the "hypocrisy" of a system she claims humiliates athletes while using them for political ends.

"Should I start with hello, goodbye, or condolences?" she wrote on Instagram, as Iran reeled from Wednesday's accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner that killed all 176 people onboard.

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.

"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 Iran's "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.

Nicosia, Cyprus | AFP

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