‘Iranian climber missing after performing without a headscarf at an international competition’

NOS Sportstoday, 13:30Amended today, 22:33

Iranian sports climber Elnaz Rekabi is missing, the reports. The athlete became the center of attention on Sunday by participating without a hijab in the Asian Championships in the South Korean capital Seoul.

Rekabi received a lot of support worldwide after her action, but at the same time there was also talk about the possible consequences. Since the Islamic revolution in 1979, Iranian women have been obliged to cover their hair in public with a headscarf and to wear long loose-fitting clothing, including when participating in sports competitions.

No contact

According to the BBC, friends of Rekabi have been unable to contact her since Sunday evening. Her phone and passport would have been confiscated. The Iranian team has also left the hotel in Seoul, a BBC journalist found out.

33-year-old Rekabi entered the final of the lead competition on Sunday, where she finished fourth, in action with her hair in a ponytail and with a headband.

“Historic” and “an incredible moment for Iranians,” it was called on social media. The risk of her actions was heard in Iranian media. “It remains to be seen how the Ministry of Sports will react to this action,” the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri wrote on Monday.

“Which is normal for almost all countries is an incredible moment for Iranians as women have been forced to cover their hair for 43 years even when competing outside Iran,” a BBC correspondent in the region tweeted.

Protests broke out in Iran over a month ago after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. The moral police arrested her in Tehran because she did not wear her headscarf according to the Islamic dress code. Eyewitnesses said she was assaulted after her arrest. Amini fell into a coma and died in hospital three days later.

Since then, thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to demonstrate for greater freedoms. Women across the country took off their headscarves and cut their hair in protest. The protests were sometimes brutally crushed.

Jan Virt/IFSC

Elnaz Rekabi (right) during the 2021 World Cup in Moscow

Prominent Iranians, including some of the country’s top athletes, have spoken out in recent weeks against the violence used to crush the protests. Iranian star player Serdar Azmoun, good for 40 goals in 62 international matches for Iran and attacker of Bayer Leverkusen, spoke openly.

Hossein Mahini, the Iranian former footballer of Persepolis FC, was arrested for his support of the protests against the Islamic regime and was recently released on bail. Footballer Kaveh Rezaei, who previously played for Club Brugge, is incarcerated for openly supporting the uprising in his country. At the end of September, the Iran national football team wore black jackets without the logos of the Iranian national football association before a friendly game against Senegal.

The Iran protests explained:


This time everything is different. The Iran protests explained.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Iranian climber missing performing headscarf international competition