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Olympic Games News

Former Afghan refugee Samira, HRH Prince Jigyel become IOC Members

Date : 10 Oct 2018

Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 10, 2018: Afghanistan women’s national basketball team player Samira Asghari was among nine new members elected by the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires on Tuesday.

Only 24, Asghari is the youngest IOC member in the last 100 years of IOC history and was one of three women among the five individual members elected at the IOC Session.

“Becoming an IOC member will mean bringing positive change, and giving hope, for better opportunities and conditions for practising sport in the world,” said Samira, whose family fled Afghanistan due to the Taliban.

Just after she was born in 1994, the Asghari family was forced to flee to Iran. Her father had practised martial arts and kung fu for years, while her uncle and her twin brothers used to do gymnastics. Samira followed in her father’s footsteps before finding her way into basketball.

“As we were refugees we weren’t very rich but, with all the passion and enthusiasm my family and I had, we tried our best, to do our best,”

Samira was quoted by the International Sports Press Association earlier this year.

Her activism in promoting the rights for women to play sports in her war-torn country has paved the way for Samira to become the youngest member of the IOC.

A member of the IOC’s Athletes Entourage Commission since 2014, Samira - who holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations - was lucky in that she was one of the few Afghan girls whose family supported her involvement in sport.

“When I started to be an athlete there were so many cultural challenges. People from my province started talking and they wanted to prevent me from doing sport, but my family supported me and told me to do my job,” recounted Samira, who also held positions in the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee.

That support has now resulted in her becoming the youngest member of the IOC and a woman who is determined to carry on as a role model for other girls, especially from Afghanistan.

“It will be a source of great pride for me, for my nation and especially for all women around the world to raise their voice in the IOC,” she added.

The new members also include His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, President of the Bhutan Olympic Committee and Chairman of the OCA International Relations Committee.

HRH Prince Jigyel joins the IOC as another Asian royal family member, Prince Tunku Imran of Malaysia, leaves after reaching the 70-year age limit.

Morinari Watanabe of Japan, President of the International Gymnastics Federation, was also among the nine new IOC members.

The IOC members also voted bobsled federation President Ivo Ferriani of Italy to their executive board representing winter sports.



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