Iranian female taekwondo medallist possibly to train in The Netherlands

The only Iranian female athlete to win an Olympic medal has defected and placed a request to train with a taekwondo instructor in Eindhoven

Kimia Alizadeh, 21, announced her decision to defect on an Instagram post accompanied by a picture of herself at the 2016 Rio Olympics. On the post since translated by CNN, she lists the reasons for defecting as “hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery” and being used as a “tool.”

The young bronze medallist goes on to say: “They took me wherever they wanted, whatever they said, I wore. Every sentence they ordered, I repeated. (…) My troubled spirit does not fit into your dirty economic channels and tight political lobbies,” she continued. “I have no other wish except for taekwondo, security and a happy and healthy life.”

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با سلام آغاز کنم، با خداحافظی یا تسلیت؟ سلام مردم مظلوم ایران، خداحافظ مردم نجیب ایران، تسلیت به شما مردم همیشه داغدار ایران. شما مرا چقدر می‌شناسید؟ فقط آنطور که در مسابقات، در تلویزیون، یا در حضور مقامات دیده‌اید. اجازه دهید حالا آزادانه، هویت سانسور شده‌ام را معرفی کنم. می‌گویند کیمیا پس از این چیزی نخواهد شد. خودم از این هم فراتر می‌روم و می‌گویم قبل از این هم چیزی نبوده‌ام: «من کیمیا علیزاده، نه تاریخسازم، نه قهرمانم، نه پرچمدار کاروان ایران» من یکی از میلیون‌ها زن سرکوب شده در ایرانم که سال‌هاست هر طور خواستند بازی‌ام دادند. هر کجا خواستند بردند. هر چه گفتند پوشیدم. هر جمله‌ای دستور دادند تکرار کردم. هر زمان صلاح دیدند، مصادره‌ام کردند. مدال‌هایم را پای حجاب اجباری گذاشتند و به مدیریت و درایت خودشان نسبت دادند. من برایشان مهم نبودم. هیچکداممان برایشان مهم نیستیم، ما ابزاریم. فقط آن مدال‌های فلزی اهمیت دارد تا به هر قیمتی که خودشان نرخ گذاشتند از ما بخرند و بهره‌برداری سیاسی کنند، اما همزمان برای تحقیرت، می‌گویند: فضیلت زن این نیست که پاهایش را دراز کند! من صبح‌ها هم از خواب بیدار می‌شوم پاهایم ناخودآگاه مثل پنکه می‌چرخد و به در و دیوار می‌گیرد. آنوقت چگونه می‌توانستم مترسکی باشم که می‌خواستند از من بسازند؟ در برنامه زنده تلویزیون، سوال‌هایی پرسیدند که دقیقاً بخاطر همان سوال دعوتم کرده بودند. حالا که نیستم می‌گویند تن به ذلت داده‌ام. آقای ساعی! من آمدم تا مثل شما نباشم و در مسیری که شما پیش رفتید قدم برندارم. من در صورت تقلید بخشی از رفتارهای شما، بیش از شما می‌توانستم به ثروت و قدرت برسم. من به اینها پشت کردم. من یک انسانم و می‌خواهم بر مدار انسانیت باقی بمانم. در ذهن‌های مردسالار و زن‌ستیزتان، همیشه فکر می‌کردید کیمیا زن است و زبان ندارد! روح آزرده من در کانال‌های آلوده اقتصادی و لابی‌های تنگ سیاسی شما نمی‌گنجد. من جز تکواندو، امنیت و زندگی شاد و سالم درخواست دیگری از دنیا ندارم. مردم نازنین و داغدار ایران، من نمی‌خواستم از پله‌های ترقی که بر پایه فساد و دروغ بنا شده بالا بروم. کسی به اروپا دعوتم نکرده و در باغ سبز به رویم باز نشده. اما رنج و سختی غربت را بجان می‌خرم چون نمی‌خواستم پای سفره ریاکاری، دروغ، بی عدالتی و چاپلوسی بنشینم. این تصمیم از کسب طلای المپیک هم سخت‌تر است، اما هر کجا باشم فرزند ایران زمین باقی می‌مانم. پشت به دلگرمی شما می‌دهم و جز اعتماد شما در راه سختی که قدم گذاشته‌ام، خواسته دیگری ندارم.

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Resstlement in The Netherlands?

The details of her resettlement are still not clear, as Ms. Alizadeh did not specify where she has asked for asylum. However, a semi-official Iranian news outlet, ISNA, reported that the athlete has moved to The Netherlands and will not represent Iran in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A spokesman for the Netherlands’ migration minister said that the office would not comment on individual asylum applications. However, sources quoted by the Dutch Broadcast Foundation, NOS, say that from Monday 13th, there wasn’t a formal application from her.

A taekwondo trainer in Eindhoven, Mimoun El Boujjoufi, told NOS that Ms. Alizadeh placed a request a month ago to train with him. “She was on holiday in Europe but decided not to return to Iran with her partner,” Mr. El Boujjoufi said. “Of course she is welcome with us. We know her qualities. She is an asset to taekwondo in the Netherlands,” he continued.

Photos circulating on social media taken in Eindhoven appear to show Ms. Alizadeh and her fiancé, Hamed Madanchi, taking part in a memorial service for the victims of the Tehran plane crash. They were taken by Jaleh Yekta, an Iranian photographer based in Eindhoven, and show the medallist in front of offerings, candles and pictures of those who lost their lives in the crash.

A troubled time for Iran

Ms. Alizadeh’s defection comes at a particularly delicate time for the Iranian regime. Only a few days ago the Iranian government accepted guilt for unintentionaly shooting down a civilian passenger plane flying over Tehran, killing 176 people. The plane crash resulted in days of protests, with witnesses claiming that live ammunition had been fired against them. On a regional and global scale, Iran is in the middle of a crisis brought by the American drone strike that killed their army commander, Qassim Suleimani.

Geopolitics meddling in Sports

Ms. Alizadeh is not the first Iranian athlete to defect. Four months ago one of Iran’s judo greats, Saeid Mollaei, defected to Germany. Mr. Mollaei was caught in Iran’s geopolitics during last year’s judo World Championships. At the time, Iranian officials pressured him to avoid by any means necessary a match in the final against an Israeli rival. Due to political reasons, Iranian athletes are forbidden to compete against Israelis.

If Kimia Alizadeh, an accomplished and talented athlete, has chosen The Netherlands as her new training ground, let’s warmly welcome another expat into our growing community!

Feature image: Mohammad Hassanzadeh/Wikimedia Commons

Maria Rita Reis
Maria Rita is an ex-International Relations teacher on a lifelong affair with the news. She enjoys reading about light topics such as minorities, terrorism, and war. An immigrant, a polyglot and a very curious human, she's always rooting for the underdog. Keeping up with international politics and understanding the power of language are two of her biggest passions. Not surprisingly, a lot of her time is spent drinking obscene amounts of coffee and laughing at silly linguistics memes.

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