Athlete disappears for 48 hours after race without hijab and inspires fear in the country

An Iranian athlete has been reported missing for at least 48 hours since representing Iran at the Asian Climbing Championships in Seoul, South Korea, but did not wear a hijab during the event, which the Iranian government requires in official competitions. Since then, Elnaz Rekabi, 33, stopped making contact with friends and family and only one text message was posted on his social networks, which worries international entities, which come to suspect the author of the post.

The competitor “made news” around the world on Saturday (15), when she didn’t wear clothing to cover her head during the competition. The international press linked the act to a sign of support for the protests in memory of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died in prison after being detained for not wearing the veil in the way planned by the government.

Friends of Elnaz said yesterday that the athlete had not given any news since Sunday (17), the day after participating in the competition.

Today, around 12:00 pm local time (6:00 am Brasília time), the athlete’s profile was updated with a post in her Instagram stories.

Without showing her face, she attributed the lack of a hijab to “a problem” resulting from being called to the test after the scheduled time. “With a 20-year history as a member of the national climbing team, I apologize for the concerns I caused,” she said.

The veracity of the message, however, was questioned by the formal character of the text and the lack of images that prove the athlete’s physical well-being.

Sources told the Persian branch of the British channel BBC that the athlete had to hand over her passport and cell phone to the Iranian authorities before boarding back to Tehran and could have been coerced into making the publications.

“Amnesty International is alarmed by reports that Elnaz is being held without communication and possibly forcibly returned to Iran, where she is at real risk of being arbitrarily arrested and tortured for violating the mandatory headscarf rules,” Amnesty International said. in a publication on social networks this afternoon, after the publication made on the athlete’s profile.

The IFSC (international acronym for International Climbing Federation) published a note on social media stating that it was aware of the situation involving the athlete.

“We have been informed that she is returning to Iran and we will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds after her arrival. The IFSC supports the rights, choices and free expression of athletes,” the statement said.

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