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Afghan Paralympian Hossain Rasouli competes in Tokyo after being evacuated from Kabul

Afghan Paralympians Hossain Rasouli and Zakia Khudadadi feared they would miss the Tokyo Paralympic Games when the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan initially prevented them from traveling to Tokyo. But after a few grueling weeks filled with uncertainty and doubt, Rasouli finally got the chance to compete in the Games on Tuesday after escape his homeland Last week.

Rasouli, whose left hand was amputated following a mine explosion, was still able to represent Afghanistan at the Paralympic Games although he missed the event for which he had qualified. The 26-year-old mainly trained to be a sprinter for the 100 meters, but instead competed in the T47 long jump, where he finished in last place.

International Paralympic Committee spokesperson Craig Spence said Rasouli was “super excited” to compete and called it a “special occasion” for him.

Afghan Paralympian Hossain Rasouli competes in Tokyo after being evacuated from Kabul
Afghanistan’s Hossain Rasouli reacts after being knocked out of the men’s T47 long jump final at the Olympic Stadium on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan.

John Walton / PA Images via Getty Images

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for Rasouli and Khudadadi. Earlier this month, the IPC said the Afghanistan National Paralympic Committee would not participate in the Tokyo Paralympic Games because it could not catch a flight out of the country. The Paralympic Games even posted the Afghan flag in “manifestation of solidarity” during the opening ceremony despite the absence of a team representative.

However, following Khudadadi’s desperate appeals, she and Rasouli were evacuated from Kabul and arrived in Tokyo on Saturday. They had been sequestered in the Paralympic Village for reasons of confidentiality and security until Tuesday, when Rasouli competed.

On Monday, IPC President Andrew Parson told reporters welcoming the two Afghan athletes was his personal “best moment” of the Games. He pledged that the IPC would “provide everything in our power” to provide them with “the safest environment” and “the calmest”.

A day earlier, Spence said the welfare of the players was their top priority and would not grant media access to athletes.

“Human life is the most important thing here… It’s about those athletes making their dreams come true of being able to attend the Paralympic Games,” said Spence.

Khudadadi, meanwhile, is set to become Afghanistan’s first female Paralympian in her competition on Thursday. The 23-year-old will compete in the Taekwondo K44 category. She previously told CBS News when it was not clear whether she would be able to make it to Tokyo: “We are all under Taliban control and it is a big nightmare for me and my family.”