Elnaz Rekabi: Fans cheer, clap as climber returns to Iran – Reuters

Elnaz Rekabi: Fans cheer, clap as climber returns to Iran - Reuters

DUBAI, Oct 19 (Reuters) – Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi, who caused controversy by competing in an international competition without a headscarf, returned to Iran to cheering supporters, repeating in comments to state media that she had climbed without a hijab on purpose.

Footage showed Rekabi, 33, climbing a wall without her head covered while representing Iran at a competition in South Korea, at a time of unprecedented protests in Iran over the death in custody of a young woman arrested by morality police for “inappropriate clothing”. “

In comments to state television after her arrival in Tehran, Rekabi said she was back in “full health” and apologized to “the people of Iran for the turbulence and anxiety I created,” her head covered by a baseball cap and hood as she spoke.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

“The struggle I had to wear my shoes and prepare my gear made me forget about the proper hijab I should have and I went to the wall and climbed up,” she added.

Crowds of well-wishers cheered, clapped and recorded the scene on cellphones as she was kicked out of the airport, according to images posted on Twitter.

In a statement published on her Instagram account on Tuesday, Rekabi cited poor scheduling as the reason she competed without a headscarf, saying she was called to climb unexpectedly.

In her televised comments, Rekabi, who came fourth in the competition, denied she was unavailable for 48 hours, and said the team had returned to Iran as planned. She said she has no plans to leave the national team.

BBC Persian reported on Tuesday that friends had been unable to contact her, and there were fears for her safety. Iran’s embassy in South Korea, on Twitter, denied reports of her disappearance after the competition.

The International Olympic Committee said it had spoken with the athlete and received assurances from Iran’s national Olympic committee (NOC) that she would not face any consequences.

“A joint meeting was held today between the IOC, the (international climbing federation) IFSC and the Iranian NOC, during which the IOC and the IFSC received clear assurances that Ms. Rekabi will not suffer any consequences and will continue to train and compete.” said an IOC spokesperson.

Another joint meeting was then held between the groups and Rekabi, the spokesman said, adding that the IOC would closely monitor the situation in the coming days and weeks.

The death last month of Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the Islamic Republic’s morality police, who arrested her for “improper clothing”, prompted nationwide protests during which women removed and burned headscarves.

The protests sparked by Amini’s death have become one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic republic since the 1979 revolution, although the unrest does not seem close to toppling the system.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting from Dubai Newsroom; Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann, Editing by William Maclean and Frank Jack Daniel

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *