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Iran's only female Olympic medalist confirmed that she had permanently left the country

Category: Sport 

21-year-old Kimia Alizadeh cited the country's oppression of women, including herself, as the main force driving her defection to Europe. Alizadeh earned a bronze medal in the taekwondo 57 kg weight class at the 2016 Summer Olympics and won a silver medal at the 2017 World Taekwondo Championships.


On January 9, Iran's state-run news media reported that Alizadeh had defected to the Netherlands, where she plans to still try for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo with a different country's team, according to RadioFreeEurope.


Alizadeh didn't specify where she is or what her future athletic plans are in her Instagram post, although she did say that her only concerns right now are taekwondo, her security, and a healthy and happy life.

"I am one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran, who have been playing with me for years," Alizadeh wrote, according to an English translation. "They took me wherever they wanted. Whatever they said, I wore. Every sentence they ordered, I repeated."

She also accused the Iranian government of exploiting her athletic success while condemning her as a woman, writing "they put my medals on the obligatory veil and attributed it to their management and tact."

Confirmation of her departure comes days after Saturday's protests in Iran, after the government admitted it had accidentally shot down a Ukranian passenger plane, killing 176 people in the process.

Alizadeh also said she had not been invited to defect to Europe, but that she would "accept the pain and hardship of homesickness" over the "corruption and lies" in Iran.

"My troubled spirit does not fit into your dirty economic channels and tight political lobbies," she wrote. "None of us matter to them."


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