Iran’s only female Olympic medalist said she defected from the Islamic Republic of Iran and described herself as “one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran.”
Kimia Alizadeh, who won a bronze medal in taekwondo at the 2016 Olympics, criticized wearing the mandatory hijab headscarf and accused officials in Iran of sexism and mistreatment, according to a letter she posted on Instagram.
#KimiaAlizadeh, Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, has rejected the regime’s oppression of women. She has defected for a life of security, happiness, and freedom. #Iran will continue to lose more strong women unless it learns to empower and support them. https://t.co/NIzdo4PPwI
— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) January 12, 2020
Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, women have been banned from soccer stadiums and other athletic events, one of many restrictions placed on what was once a thriving modern society.
Other Iranian athletes likewise have left their country, citing government pressure, the Associated Press said. In September 2019, Saeed Mollaei, an Iranian judoka, left the country for Germany. He said Iranian officials had forced him to not compete with the Israeli judoka.
Alireza Faghani, an Iranian international soccer referee, left Iran for Australia last year.