Iran’s only female Olympic medalist announced she has defected from the Islamic Republic — posting a blistering online letter over the weekend describing herself as “one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran.”
Taekwondo champion Kimia Alizadeh, 21 — who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics — attacked the “hypocrisy, lies [and] injustice” of her homeland Saturday as she revealed she’d fled to Europe.
“I am one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran whom they’ve been playing for years,” she wrote in an Instagram post accusing Iranian officials of sexism and other mistreatment.
“I wore whatever they told me and repeated whatever they ordered. Every sentence they ordered I repeated,” she said, adding that she was angry at being forced to wear her country’s mandatory hijab headscarf while competing.
“None of us matter for them, we are just tools,” she raged.
The athlete said that while Iran’s government took advantage of her medals politically, officials would also humiliate her, making remarks such as, “It is not virtuous for a woman to stretch her legs!”
Alizadeh reportedly fled to the Netherlands, though said she has yet to be asked by another country to continue to compete in her sport.
“But I accept the pain and hardship of homesickness because I didn’t want to be part of hypocrisy, lies, injustice,” Alizadeh wrote.
Still, she assured the “dear Iranian people” that she would remain “a child of Iran,” wherever she is.
News of her disappearance shocked Iran.
Iranian parliament member Abdolkarim Hosseinzadeh accused “incompetent officials” of allowing the country’s “human capital to flee,” according to Agence France-Press.
A deputy Iranian sports minister, Mahin Farhadizadeh, suggested that Alizadeh defected simply to pursue her education.