The Beijing Winter Olympics kicked off on Friday in China with 2,871 male and female athletes from 91 countries competing in 15 different sports. This year, however, no athletes from Afghanistan attended the games due to the lack of Afghan passports, the athletes and Afghan ski officials said.
Two skiers, Sayed Ali Shah Farhang and Sajjad Hosseini, were supposed to represent Afghanistan on the basis of a 2020 formal agreement, but officials from the Afghan Ski Federation said that they could not attend the contests due to the lack of passports.
“Unfortunately, due to our passport problems, we dropped out of the competition and missed several competitions. The passport department did not issue passports to any athletes,” said Shams Kargar, the ski federation coach.
A number of former national athletes and officials of sports federations consider the mountainous parts of the country a suitable place to prepare for winter games, especially skiing.
“Unfortunately, Afghanistan could not participate in the Summer Olympics except for in Taekwondo. We do not have a federation that can participate in the Winter Olympics or win a place, and we unfortunately do not have the same facilities,” said Taekwondo Federation coach Mohammad Bashir Taraki.
“Afghanistan has cold, snowy provinces and we could have been represented in skiing, but the poor leadership and management of the Afghan Olympic Committee made the Afghan people just a spectator of these competitions," said Mahmoud Haidari, a former member of the national Taekwondo team.
In the meantime, officials of the National Olympic Committee said that due to some technical problems Afghan athletes could not attend the games.
“After the political change in the country, there were some technical problems, Bamyan is a good place for skiing, where training was supposed to take place, but there was no snow and passports were not ready for skiing athletes,” said Dad Mohammad Nawak, spokesman for the National Olympic Committee.