The safe arrival of Paralympic athletes in Afghanistan in Tokyo sends a “very strong message of hope,” said International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence.
Zakia Hudadadi and Hossein Rasuli arrived in Japan after leaving Kabul in a “major global operation”.
They were greeted in the athletes’ village by a party including IPC President Andrew Parsons.
“As you can imagine, the meeting was extremely emotional,” Spence said.
“There were a lot of tears from everyone in the room. It was a really remarkable meeting.”
The chairman of the IPC Athletic Council Chelsea Hotel and the chef of the Afghan team Arian Sadiki were also part of the meeting.
Hudadadi and Rasuli were among thousands of people unable to leave Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power before the couple was evacuated.
“We have never lost hope,” Parsons said.
“We always knew that both athletes were likely to participate in Tokyo 2020, which is why the flag of Afghanistan was paraded at the opening ceremony on Tuesday.”
The flag of Afghanistan was held by a volunteer at the opening ceremony.
On Wednesday, the IPC said the couple was safe. Since then, Parsons has revealed that they spent a week in France at the National Institute for Sports Expertise and Achievement, the training center for high-quality training at the French Ministry of Sport, on its way to Japan.
“Twelve days ago, we were informed that the Afghan Paralympic team could not travel to Tokyo, a move that broke the hearts of all participants in the Paralympic movement and left both athletes devastated,” Parsons said.
“This announcement marked the beginning of a major global operation that led to their safe evacuation from Afghanistan, their recovery from France and their now safe arrival in Tokyo.
“Our number one priority is and always will be the health and well-being of both athletes.”
“The physical and mental health of Zakia and Hossein is paramount at all times. They will have the full support of the Paralympic family while they are with us,” added the chairman of the IPC Chelsea Hotel.
Hudadadi, 23, will be the first woman to represent Afghanistan at the Paralympic Games.
She will compete in the women’s 44kg to 49kg category on Thursday, while Rasuli will rank in the men’s 400m athletics on Friday.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s presence was felt when Manchester United beat the Wolves in their first match since announcing that they had reached an agreement to re-sign the striker.
Ronaldo was not at Moligno, but traveling United fans sang his name, and the Red Devils are expected to confirm the arrival of the five-time Juventus Ballon d’Or winner in the coming days for £ 12.8 million.
On the field, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team was the second best after the lively wolves for long periods before Mason Greenwood scored a controversial late winner.
The Wolves felt that Ruben Neves was fouled during the accumulation, but the goal was left to stand.
The Wolves were able to climb 3-0 in 15 minutes, as Raul Jimenez forced David de Gea into an early save, Aaron One-Bissaka made a saving goal to deny Trinkao and Joao Moutinho to transfer after a mistake by Yadon Sancho.
United were second best for long periods and required a spectacular double save from De Gea by Romain Sais to prevent the Wolves from leading before the Greenwood final.
Cardboard clippings and chants “Viva Ronaldo”
There was a carnival atmosphere in Molineux. Fans of the wolves were thrilled by the arrival of new striker Juan Hee Chan – who was introduced to the field after his arrival from RB Leipzig – while traveling United supporters sang for Ronaldo from start to finish.
Viva Ronaldo chants could be heard outside the ground two hours before the start.
Inside Molineux, United fans wore CR7 T-shirts, held “welcome Ronaldo” signs and wore replica shirts with his name on the back.
Fans also showed a cardboard cutout of Ronaldo, while Solskjaer excitedly spoke before the match about the upcoming return of the 36-year-old footballer.
“I am excited to continue to build this team. It will bring something completely different,” said the United boss.
“I hope Cristiano comes and shows what he has done in his career.
“I’m sure he likes all the talk about aging. Do it yourself and he’ll show what he can do.”
The familiar story of wolves
The Wolves are left without a point with their new boss Bruno Lage after a third consecutive defeat with 1: 0.
Adama Traore’s unparalleled pace ensures that his country starts on the front leg against United, who are struggling to reach the peak of their victory over Leeds at the weekend.
For the Wolves, however, this was a familiar ending.
Having managed 15 attempts for the goal in their first matches, they still do not score and have already lost their last six matches in the Premier League.
Rafael Varane made his first start at United, making an important block to thwart Trinkao, while De Gea’s second stop from Sais was an early contender to save the season.
The Wolves were angry that Greenwood’s goal had been left to stand as Neves protested to Judge Mike Dean at the last whistle.
“They said they would look for contact before the start of the season – if the contact is strong enough, they will give a foul. I showed them my leg,” the midfielder told Sky Sports after the match.
“After the game, he said, ‘You’re both going to the ball,’ and I said, ‘Yes, we’re both going to win the ball, but I was the one who touched the ball.’ It’s a foul, a pure foul.”
It would always be a challenging start for Lage against Leicester, Tottenham and Manchester United.
However, the Portuguese knows that his country must start scoring points in its first two games after the international break against the promoted Watford and Brentford.