Afghanistan's national taekwondo team missed the Asian qualifying matches for the Tokyo Olympics over positive tests of three members of the squad amidst their trip to Jordan this week.
Their coach has also tested positive for COVID-19.
Sumayya Ghulami, a female member of the team, was the first to test positive for COVID-19 in Kabul last week. She was barred from traveling to Jordan where they were expected to compete among Asian teams to be qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.
In Jordon, meanwhile, Zahra Mirzaee, another female member of the team and their coach Mohammad Mirzaee tested positive for COVID-19.
According to international rules for sports, if 50 percent of a team tests positive for COVID-19, all its members are prevented from attending qualifying matches for the Tokyo Olympics.
“The last test was from mine, Farzad Mansoori and Dr. Najibullah Sekandar. We all tested negative. It means that we followed all rules and quarantined our athletes, but based on the protocol, when 50 percent of the team tests positive (for COVID-19), all team members are disqualified,” said Zabihullah Shahzad, spokesman for Taekwondo Federation.
The taekwondo team members have been preparing for the event for the last three years. Social media users reacted to the matter and blamed the National Olympic Committee for the lack of proper planning for such key events.
Mir Sayed, an Afghan athlete, said this shows a lack of efficiency by the National Olympic Committee that could not manage the situation. He suggested that the athletes should have been sent to Jordon earlier so that even if they test positive, they could have spent a 14-day quarantine period there.
Another athlete, Masroor Tabesh, called it a tragedy for Afghanistan’s sports and said that if it happened in another country, its sports officials might have resigned from their posts.
“At first, the taekwondo federation, the national Olympic committee and the physical education directorate are blamed and are responsible. The head of the Olympic committee, the head of the taekwondo federation and the coach of the team should apologize to the people and resign as quickly as possible,” said Bashir Taraki, a coach of the national taekwondo team.
Farzad Mansoori, Mohsin Rezaee, Sumayya Ghulami and Zahra Mirzaee are the four taekwondo team members who were expected to represent Afghanistan at the international event.