ASCHAFFENBURG, Germany, March 2 (Reuters) – Iranian female Olympic medal winner Kimia Alizadeh has been granted refugee status in Germany and aims to compete in the Olympic Refugee Team under a white flag in Tokyo this summer.
Alizadeh, who won taekwondo bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympics, fled to Germany last year after several offers to compete for the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium and Bulgaria.
She said she had left her homeland because she was fed up with being used as a propaganda tool.
“Taekwondo changed my life,” Alizadeh told Reuters. “When I got a medal, I was the first athlete in Iran and, after that, all the people knew me and … that was hard.”
The 22-year-old, who now lives in the Bavarian town of Aschaffenburg, is training with her husband and can compete for a ticket to the Olympics at the European qualifying tournament in Sofia in May.
The young athlete plans to join the Olympic Refugee Team, which will be picked in June from a group of 55 athletes in 12 sports.
Germany’s Taekwondo Union said its president had contacted the interior minister over Alizadeh’s refugee status last summer, adding that Alizadeh was Germany’s third refugee athlete.
“Now, everything is okay. The important thing is that I can have my personal life and my sport life together,” Alizadeh said.
(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Alex Richardson)