Afghanistan sprinter Kimia Yousofi, Olympic flag-bearer relocated to Australia




Afghanistan’s Olympic flag-bearer Kimia Yousofi has been successfully relocated to Australia along with five Afghan families fleeing Taliban persecution.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said the athletes with “ties to the Olympic movement” had arrived in recent months following a 12-month project to bring them to safety.

In all, 31 family members have resettled in the country since June.

“It’s been a journey for me but I am very happy to be here,” said Yousofi.

“I am essentially starting a new life here.”

Sprinter Yousofi, 26, carried Afghanistan’s flag at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – which were postponed until last year because of the coronavirus pandemic – and took part in the women’s 100m event.

She is now hoping to compete at the Paris Olympics in 2024.

“I am going to be training very hard, it would be exciting to go to Paris,” she added.

Asian Games taekwondo medallist Ahmad Abasy was also part of the group relocated down under.

The AOC liaised with the Australian government to secure visas and flights for the Afghan arrivals, while the International Olympic Committee (IOC) provided financial support during their time in interim locations.

“For the families involved, the stress and uncertainty over this time has been enormous,” said AOC chief executive Matt Carroll.

“Many have spent time in locations outside Afghanistan and it’s wonderful to now have them on Australian soil. All arrived happy, if exhausted.

“These brave people have endured significant hardship and we are so pleased that our efforts have been successful.”

Australia evacuated more than 70 Afghan athletes, family members and officials a year ago as the Taliban came into power.

Girls’ and women’s sport has since been suppressed by the Taliban government’s hardline policies.

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