January 20, 2020 / 12:43 PM / in 4 months

Iran's only female Olympic medalist moving to Germany: coach

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Iran’s only female Olympic medalist Kimia Alizadeh, who has said she had left her homeland because she had had enough of being used as a propaganda tool, is moving to Germany, her Dutch coach said.

Taekwondo - Iran's only female Olympic medallist Kimia Alizadeh holds a press conference - Musado Training Center, Lunen, Germany - January 24, 2020 Kimia Alizadeh with the media after the press conference REUTERS/Leon Kuegeler

Alizadeh, who won taekwondo bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympics, had been training in the southern Dutch city of Eindhoven, after leaving Iran several weeks earlier.

“Kimia has decided to continue in Germany,” Dutch national taekwondo coach Mimoun el Boujjoufi told Reuters on Monday.

German newspaper Bild this weekend reported that Alizadeh wished to continue her career in Germany and had moved to Hamburg, after having also received offers to compete for the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium and Bulgaria.

“After the explosion (of interest) many fought for her attention,” El Boujjoufi said.

She had written on Instagram this month she was prepared to accept the “hardship of homesickness” because she “didn’t want to be part of hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery”.

“I wore whatever they told me and repeated whatever they ordered. Every sentence they ordered I repeated,” she wrote. “None of us matter for them, we are just tools.”

Mahin Farhadizadeh, a deputy Iranian sports minister, said at the time he had not read Kimia’s post, adding “as far as I know she always wanted to continue her studies in physiotherapy”, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

Alizadeh is one of several Iranian sportspeople to clash with the Iran authorities of late.

Iranian chess referee Shohreh Bayat who has been accused of violating her country’s Islamic dress code while adjudicating a women’s tournament said last week she did not want to return home from Russia out of fear for her safety.

Earlier this month, Iranian chess grandmaster Mitra Hejaziour was expelled from the national team for not wearing the hijab at the World Rapid and Blitz Championship in Moscow.

Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Alison Williams

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