Iranian Female Olympic Medalist Defects Citing Oppression

The Associated Press broke the story of Kimia Alizadeh, Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, who announced she has defected from the country, making the Netherlands her new home. Alizadeh, a Taewondo athlete, won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

She posted her defection letter on Instagram. In the letter, she stated that the reason for her defection was the oppression of women in her home country. She described herself as “one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran.” She criticized having to wear the mandatory hijab headscarf and accused Iranian officials of sexism and mistreatment.

Alizadeh is one of several athletes who’ve defected from Iran in the past year. Saeed Mollaei, an Iranian judoka, left for Germany in September. Alireza Faghani, an international soccer referee, defected to Australia last year.

Photo credit: screen grab from Instagram

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