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With near-total obscurity as they escaped across the border into Pakistan, the Afghan Olympic Committee heroes of the Winter Olympics are now preparing to see their Olympic dreams of qualifying for future Olympics dashed yet again.
This time the lack of government support could force Afghan athletes to face the Taliban at the ‘home’ games of their sport rather than with their own country at the ‘opening ceremony’.
A group of 86 Afghan athletes, including medical workers, restaurant workers and the president of the country’s Olympic Committee, all raced to Afghanistan’s hometown of Herat in order to escape the turmoil of the Taliban.
One by one, their families followed, with a group of 28 being kicked out in 2015.
Now some of those family members, including the three siblings living in America, have set out to journey back to Afghanistan.
Six months ago more than 400 athletes from Afghanistan arrived at Doha airport to join Team Afghanistan’s cross-country and biathlon team in Doha for the Asian Games.
It was hoped that all of those athletes who took part in the Kabul Marathon would qualify, but the initial audit team has failed to secure additional flights to Afghanistan for many.
One member of the Afghan Sports Federation team from Qatar, Sayed Dadhabad, said: “We have 35 athletes who are also competing at the Olympics.
“We already came back but only three have qualified.
“Our main aim is to be able to qualify for 2020, but we are now thinking of trying to go back to the Olympics.
“I don’t know how we would be allowed to do that but I would like to show to my children that being an athlete is not a forbidden thing, to see if we can qualify for the Olympics.”
The family and several other team members had to be flown to the Qatari capital to live in accommodation provided by Qatar while the 27-strong official team travelled to Doha.