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Int’l Olympic Committee pledges aid for Afghan athletes

AT News

KABUL: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced $560,000 of humanitarian aid for the winter to those athletes left behind inside Afghanistan, after evacuating about 300 members of the Afghan sports community.

“Thanks to our discreet diplomacy, the Taliban accept and support the delivery by the IOC of humanitarian aid to members of the Olympic community who still live in Afghanistan,” Thomas Bach, the IOC president, said on Wednesday.

He was speaking after the second day of an executive board meeting at which the IOC earmarked $560,000 in aid for about 2,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes to be distributed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Following the return to power of the Taliban in mid-August, 300 Afghan athletes, coaches and officials were evacuated on humanitarian visas obtained by National Olympic Committees from their governments.

“This is a work in progress,” Bach said.

“It has become more difficult to get a humanitarian visa for people from Afghanistan than at the very beginning of this evacuation. Nevertheless, we are in talks with a number of governments and we hope that one or the other will come to fruition.

“Because this has slowed down we have reinforced the humanitarian community to overcome the very harsh winter in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, Bach said the IOC had begun discussions with the Taliban on November 18 in Qatar about those who remained behind, especially women and girls.

“We have clearly explained to them that free access to sport, without any gender, ethnic, religious or other discrimination, is fundamental for the respect of the Olympic Charter,” he said.

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