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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


Update on Brittney Griner’s Moscow appeal



A Moscow regional court has officially set an appeal date of October 25 for American basketball star Brittney Griner

Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia for smuggling drugs into the country, arrested with less than 1 gram of cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s International Airport back in February.

Details about the appeal hearing have not been released,

It is expected Griner’s team will argue she did not know the cannabis oil was illegal in Russia and that she was only carrying a small amount for personal use.

There have also been rumours that the U.S. is negotiating a prisoner swap with Russia, but it is not clear if Griner is part of those negotiations.

The U.S. has not confirmed or denied the rumours.

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Vigil held for the 125 people killed in stadium disaster




Vigil held for the 125 people killed in Indonesia’s stadium disaster, as the nation mourns

Vigil held for the 125 people have been killed in a crush and riot at a soccer match in Indonesia.

Authorities believe it is one of the world’s worst stadium disasters. Now, the nation stops to mourn the lives that have been lost.

The tragedy unfolded in Malang, in the province of East Java. It followed home side Arema FC loosing 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya.

East Java police chief Nico Afinta said frustrated Arema supporters invaded the pitch.

Officers responded by firing tear gas in an attempt to control the situation, triggering the crush and cases of suffocation.

Afinta claimed officers had been attacked and cars damaged. He said the crush happened when fans fled for an exit gate.

300 were injured, including 22-year-old Muhammad Rian Dwicahyono who said many friends had lost their lives “because of officers who dehumanized us”.

The head of one of the hospitals in the area treating patients told Metro TV that some of the victims had sustained brain injuries and that the fatalities included a five-year-old child.

On Sunday, Malang residents gathered outside the stadium to lay flowers.

As investigations continue, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has ordered the Football Association of Indonesia to suspend all games in the top league.

World soccer’s governing body FIFA has requested a report on the incident from Indonesia’s PSSI soccer association.

FIFA’s safety regulations say no firearms or “crowd control gas” should be carried or used by stewards or police.

East Java police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether they were aware of such regulations.

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Business scraps $495m deal with UEFA Champions League



Cryptocurrency exchange has cancelled a five-year sponsorship deal worth $495million with the UEFA Champions League

Major cryptocurrency exchange platform has officially scrapped its deal with the UEFA Champions League.

The in-principle deal would have seen the crypto company take over as the sponsor from Russian state-owned energy company, Gazprom.

Gazprom’s contract was cancelled in March, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. scrapped the deal because of regulatory concerns in the U.K, France and Italy.

The crypto exchange has previously been involved in sports advertising over the past year, with sponsorship into Formula One and the naming rights deal for the Staples Centre in Los Angeles.

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