After Iranian competition climber Elnaz Rekabi competed without a hijab in the IFSC Asian Championships in Seoul last week, rumours began to spread that she had disappeared and possibly ended up in an Iranian prison.
However, the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC), and the Iran Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Federation (IMSCF) confirmed today that Rekabi has safely arrived in Tehran, Iran, and is now with her family. “The Iranian National Olympic Committee has also confirmed the news,” a press release said.
The IFSC noted that a meeting took place in Seoul, South Korea, between the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the IFSC, and the Iranian National Olympic Committee, during which the IOC and the IFSC received clear assurance that Rekabi will not suffer any consequences and will continue to train and compete. “After the meeting, a phone conversation also took place between her, the IOC, the IFSC, and the Iranian National Olympic Committee,” the press release said.
When Rekabi arrived in Tehran, she was welcomed by fans and people cheering for her. The Guardian reported she was “met by jubilant crowds” and that she received flowers. In the article, it says that Rekabi said that she wasn’t wearing her hijab was an “unintentional” move. Inside Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, she told reporters, “Because I was busy putting on my shoes and my gear, it caused me to forget to put on my hijab and then I went to compete. I came back to Iran with peace of mind although I had a lot of tension and stress. But so far, thank God, nothing has happened.”
The IFSC, in close coordination with the IOC, the Iranian National Olympic Committee, and the IMSCF, will continue monitoring the situation and will wait for her to return to the IFSC circuit of events at the beginning of the 2023 season.
Elnaz Rekabi–the Iranian climber who refused to wear compulsory hejab while competing–is greeted as a hero at 5AM at Tehran airport after her plane lands from Seoul. Imprisoning her will only increase the Iranian nation's enormous admiration for her. pic.twitter.com/7LFUk8hTTJ
— Karim Sadjadpour (@ksadjadpour) October 19, 2022