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Australia lends a helping hand to fleeing Afghan para-athletes



Australia steps up in solidarity as Afghan paralympians Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli are invited to seek refuge in the country.

Afghanistan flag at 2020 Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony

There are reports that two afghan paralympians who have landed in Tokyo to compete in the 2020 Paralympics, will soon resettle in Australia.

Afghanistan athletes Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli have received humanitarian visas to stay in Australia, after fleeing Kabul following the Taliban takeover. 

Former Socceroo and refugee advocate Craig Foster told the Nine Network on Sunday that efforts were made to grant both athletes safe asylum.

He thanked all those involved which included Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke and Independent MP Zali Steggall.

“We must stand up for all the humane treatment of all refugees, all people, especially and immediately, but not only Afghanistan.”

Foster said on Twitter. 

It comes as welcome news to many advocates who worked tirelessly to help both paralympians flee the country. 

Human Rights for All lawyer Alison Battisson was involved in the efforts to evacuate scores of Afghan athletes out of the war-torn country.

She told SBS news that it was the efforts of a mainly female-dominated team of lawyers and an intern which helped the Paralympian pair escape.

“I have this amazing legal intern … Eric Zhang, [who] did [Zakia’s] application,” Battisson says.

“[He] stayed with those two for days, translating and pushing for their evacuation. He risked his life to get them over the line.”

Uncertainty surrounded the team’s attendance

Many didn’t think the Afghan paralympian team would make the games due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Consequently, the team wasn’t at the opening ceremony to carry their flag, with an Olympic volunteer carrying out it on their behalf as a way of representing solidarity. 

“Twelve days ago we were informed that the Afghan Paralympic Team could not travel to Tokyo, a move that broke the hearts of all involved in the Paralympic movement and left both athletes devastated,” IPC president Andrew Parsons said. 

“That announcement kick-started a major global operation that led to their safe evacuation from Afghanistan, their recuperation by France, and now their safe arrival in Tokyo.” 

The first female Afghan athlete since 2005

Zakia will be the first female Afghan to compete at the Olympics in 17 years, taking part in the women’s taekwondo K44-49kg category on Thursday. 

The Australian Government and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne are yet to comment on the situation.

Written by Rebecca Borg

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Rafa Nadal pulls out of French Open



The Spaniard has failed to regain full fitness from a hip injury sustained earlier this year

Rafa Nadal has delivered news that no tennis fan wanted to hear.

The King of Clay will miss the French Open after failing to regain full fitness from a hip injury suffered at the Australian Open back in January.

The 14-time Roland Garros winner says he expects to retire following the 2024 season.

Nadal has dominated the clay court season for close to two decades.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion fronted a widely anticipated press conference at his tennis academy in Mallorca to drop the bombshell, saying its the right thing to do for his body and personal happiness.

“I’ll look to be 100% ready for next year, which I believe will be the last year of my professional career,” Nadal told a news conference at his tennis academy in Mallorca, Spain.

“The evolution of the injury I sustained in Australia has not gone as I would have liked. I have lost goals along the way, and Roland Garros becomes impossible.”

“I’ll not establish a date for my return. I’ll see how my body responds and take it from there,” said the 36-year-old. “If I keep playing at this moment, I don’t think I can be there next year.

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to come back in the highest level and compete for Grand Slams. What I will try to do is to give myself the opportunity to go back to what could be my final year competing at the highest level.”

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China expresses concerns about ‘politicisation of sports’



The East Asian nation raised the issue when Premier Li met with the head of the IOC, Thomas Bach

China has expressed concerns to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about the politicisation of sporting events.

The issue was raised when Chinese Premier Li Qiang met Thomas Bach, the head of the IOC, in Beijing over the weekend.

“China’s efforts to promote the Olympic spirit will never cease, and [China is] ready to work with IOC to oppose the politicisation of sports, and make further contributions to the Olympic movement,” Li said.

It is rare for China to raise such concerns with the IOC in public, and it was the first time it had made such comments since the Winter Olympics in Beijing early last year.

The United States and several of its allies took part in a diplomatic boycott of the Games, citing alleged human rights abuse in China’s far west region of Xinjiang.

Beijing has repeatedly denied the accusation and said it opposes any attempts to politicise sporting events.

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Tasmanian AFL team becomes reality



Tasmania will have a team in the AFL after all 18 current teams agreed to the motion

An exciting day for residents of the Australian state of Tasmania today.

Outgoing AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan confirming Tasmania has been granted the league’s 19th licence.

It follows the nation’s federal government confirming it will cover the $240 million shortfall to fund a new multi-purpose stadium at Macquarie Point.

This has long been viewed as Tasmania’s most significant hurdle for entry into the league.

All 18 clubs supported the state’s bid, before the AFL Commission agreed to a formal ratification.

McLachlan fronted a press conference at North Hobart Oval, alongside Premier Jeremy Rockliff, Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles and a whole host of players.

The CEO says the decision “will finally make [the] competitions truly national”. #trending #featured

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