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Iran Olympian, defector would be ‘happy to compete for Germany’

kimia alizadeh (Mohammad Hassanzadeh/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iranian defector Kimia Alizadeh has told German media that she “would be happy to compete for Germany” at this year’s Summer Olympics.

The 21-year-old Alizadeh has been a national hero since becoming the first Iranian woman to stand on an Olympic podium by winning a bronze medal in the taekwondo 57-kilogram weight class at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

She announced her “permanent” defection via social media last week, blaming the Iranian regime’s “injustice” and “hypocrisy” for the way it exploits athletes as “tools” for political purposes.

But she hadn’t said where she was, and some suggested at the time that she wanted to settle in the Netherlands.

“I would be happy to compete for Germany there. I am hoping for a quiet life without any problems here,” Alizadeh told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag Sunday paper in an article that was published on January 19, according to the dpa news agency.

The paper said Alizadeh was in the northern German city of Hamburg, and that she had offers from Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, and the Netherlands.

The 2020 Summer Olympics are scheduled to run from July 24 to August 9, and it is unclear that Alizadeh could meet eligibility guidelines for Tokyo.

BBC named Alizadeh one of the 100 most “inspiring and influential women from around world” in 2019.

Alizadeh said in her Instagram post on January 11 that she no longer wanted to “sit at the table of hypocrisy, lies, injustice, and flattery.”

“I am one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran with whom they have been playing for years,” she wrote. “I wore whatever they told me to wear. I repeated everything they told me to say,” she wrote, adding, “None of us matter to them.”