Olympic Committee Tells Taliban It Will Stop Supporting Afghanistan If Women & Girls Are Not Allowed To Play Freely

Guess what? The International Olympic Committee (IOC) in a decision on Tuesday evening warned the Taliban government that it will stop supporting Afghanistan’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) if women are not allowed to play sports.

Go deeper:

  • The Olympic Committee issued a stern warning that its support to NOC will depend on conditions, including women being allowed to play sports with “safe and inclusive access” and to take part in sports administration.
  • The OIC also stated that the Olympic team from Afghanistan should not only include female athletes who live abroad, but also those who live inside the country.
  • However, the committee did state that it will continue to aid and fund individual athletes from Afghanistan who wish to compete in the Olympics.
  • The IOC decision was announced after an executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.
  • The Committee also condemned the restrictions being imposed by the Taliban on women and girls in Afghanistan, which stop them from participating in sports.
  • It was not immediately clear how soon the IOC might implement the measures, but the board said Afghanistan’s participation in the Summer Olympics in Paris in 2024 “will depend on the progress made in relation to the fundamental issue of safe access to sport for women and young girls in the country.”
  • Last Tokyo Olympics, the Afghanistan team had four men and one woman participate in various events.

Why it matters? Taliban has been isolating women from society ever since it came to power. After entering Kabul on August 15, 2021, the Taliban prevented the reopening of girls’ schools in Afghanistan.

  • It has imposed restrictions on women from working; it has placed prohibitions on their movements to parks, gymnasiums and other areas; it has also stopped them from moving about freely with a male chaperone (Mahram). Apart from removing them from social and public life, education too has remained out of bounds for girls in Afghanistan; at workplaces they have either been removed or have been asked to follow strict dress code like wearing masks and veils even on televisions.
  • Preventing women and girls from playing sports is just another way in which the Taliban is simply erasing the existence of half of the population of Afghanistan under its hardline regime.

Zoom out: The warning came a day after Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the IOC to suspend Afghanistan from taking part in sports events immediately and to halt its funding. HRW said the ban should continue until women and girls are allowed to play sports in the country.

  • Forbidding women and girls from playing sports was one of the many restrictions imposed by the Taliban after its return to power in August 2021. HRW said that this is a violation of international human rights law and of the Olympic Charter, which mandates non-discrimination in sport.
  • “Hundreds of female athletes have chosen to flee the country rather than give up the sports they love, and that are their jobs,” HRW said in its statement.
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