Olympic Movement comes together to help ensure the safety of hundreds of members of the Afghan sports community

26 Oct 2021
IOC News

Over the past few months, the IOC has, in coordination with National Olympic Committees (NOCs), International Federations (IFs), the IOC Member in Afghanistan, Samira Asghari, and the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games Paris 2024, and in collaboration with UNHCR, various NGOs and sports organisations, taken more than 300 members of the Olympic Community from Afghanistan to safety.

Team Afghanistan enters during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Getty Images

But there are still more than 700 people who are at risk and who remain in the country. They are mainly women and girls practising sport, as well as those supporting them and promoting women’s access to sport.

With regard to these members of the Afghan Olympic Community, the IOC is continuing its assistance in two different ways. Firstly, it is making every effort to get them evacuated to safe countries. Secondly, the IOC has been informed that a number of those having to remain are suffering from the humanitarian crisis in the country with regard to the availability of food and clothing. The IOC will therefore establish a humanitarian fund to provide assistance to them in these difficult times. In both matters, the NOC of Qatar has offered logistical cooperation with regard to transport from Kabul and the distribution of the humanitarian assistance.

During the recent General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) in Crete, the IOC appealed to all NOCs to contact their governments to obtain more humanitarian visas, which are necessary for the evacuation. Immediately following this appeal, the IOC received a number of commitments of assistance. It stresses that the efforts have been strengthened to save the 700 or so people who remain.

In a report to the ANOC General Assembly in Crete, IOC Director of NOC Relations and Olympic Solidarity James Macleod outlined the comprehensive action being undertaken across the whole Olympic Movement: “It is worth noting the extraordinary spirit of solidarity demonstrated by the Olympic Community since the beginning of this rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis. Indeed, the success of all the actions undertaken by the IOC has been made possible thanks to this collaboration. With uncertain times in Afghanistan, the IOC and all our partners moved quickly to protect and to help members of the sports community; and once the immediate crisis is over, this support will continue.”

Mr Macleod outlined that the immediate focus remains on safeguarding, through the evacuation of a maximum number of the Olympic Community members who fear for their safety. But going forward, the emphasis will also be on making sure that support can be sustained for those who intend to continue their sporting careers inside and outside the country.

All Afghan Olympians from Tokyo, as well as the two Beijing hopefuls, are confirmed to be outside the country. For these athletes, Olympic Solidarity has committed to supporting them through scholarships and training grants. The IOC has also provided safe passage to the NOC President, NOC Secretary General and a number of National Federation members.

And the aid effort continues, with many NOCs and their governments offering valuable support, including Qatar, Pakistan, Iran, Canada, Australia, Poland, the UK, the USA, Argentina, Switzerland and Germany to name a few. Many International Federations, such as the UCI, have also been active in helping athletes from their sports. The Organising Committee for Paris 2024 has also supported these efforts.

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