The IOC celebrates progress in meeting with Afghan sports officials

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) – Sports leaders appointed by the Taliban have promised Olympic officials that Afghanistan will continue to allow its athletes and teams to compete internationally.

The International Olympic Committee announced the promise on Thursday after its delegation met in Qatar with leaders of the Afghan Directorate-General for Physical Education and Sport. Qatar’s capital Doha has been a political base for the Taliban, which regained control of Afghanistan in August.

“During the meeting, the Afghan representatives declared that they were strongly committed to following and complying with the Olympic Charter,” the IOC said in a statement.

Hundreds of athletes and sports officials, including many women who feared being barred from competing and from reprisals, have left Afghanistan since August. They were assisted by international athletic representatives and sports bodies, including the IOC and FIFA.

Thursday’s outcome could mean Afghan athletes will compete at the Olympics in Beijing in February.

“Both parties reiterated the fundamental right to access and practice sports safely for all individuals without discrimination,” the IOC said. “Both sides consider the discussions to have been constructive and agreed to continue the dialogue.”

The IOC noted that it “continues to recognize the existing National Olympic Committee (NOC) in Afghanistan”, whose elected leaders were present in Qatar, where the ruling Emir is also a longtime IOC member.

The Afghan delegation was led by Nazar Mohammad Mutmaeen, the IOC reports. He was announced by the Taliban in September as a member of the interim cabinet.

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