An Iranian Olympic skier who travelled to Europe so she could prepare for the Alpine World World Championship has applied for asylum in Germany.
Atefeh Ahmadi, 22 – who was Iran’s flag bearer at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics – told anti-regime media: “I left Iran to reach my goal, but my heart is with Iran. I love my Iran. I love my people.”
News of her asylum bid was broken by the London-based Iran International media outlet, branded a terrorist organisation by the regime.
She is quoted as saying: “If I could, I would stand by the people so that we can reach freedom together.”
Her remarks seem to be a comment on the brutal state put down of the thousands of anti-regime demonstrations breaking out across Iran.
It is not known whether Artefeh will compete as an Iranian or an independent at next week’s (6th February) world championships in France.
She told Iran International that she had applied for a visa independently because applying through Iran’s ski federation forced applicants to sign over their homes as a security deposit.
The deposit is supposed to guarantee that athletes return home.
But Atefeh said: “I don’t think that putting the document (the house deed) in the federation’s mortgage is the right thing for a national sportsman or woman.”
Ahmadi also said that male skiers were being given priority over women, with the authorities saying that this was because of recent anti-hijab protests in Iran.
She said: “They said because of this uprising and these recent events, the dispatches are reduced to a minimum.”
Ahmadi added: “Priority is given to the men’s team.”
The champion skier also complained about heavy Iranian security and surveillance on overseas visits.
She said: “The security people who took our passports most of the trips always followed us, they even looked at the juices in our hands to see what we drink… what kind of meat do we have.”
Iran’s ski federation chief Abbas Nazarian has reportedly said that Ahmadi’s move “was a personal decision and seems to have been planned for a while.”
Iranian forces have been cracking down on waves of civil disorder following the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, from Saqqez, Kurdistan Province.
She was on a visit to Tehran when she was arrested by morality police, accused of violating hijab rules on 13th September 2022.
She was allegedly beaten while in custody and spent the following days in a coma in the hospital before succumbing in the ICU on 16th September.
The clinic where she was treated said in a now-deleted social media post that she had been admitted brain-dead.
Alleged medical scans of her skull leaked by hackers showed that she had suffered bone fractures, haemorrhages, and brain oedema.
Independent Iranian media have claimed that Mahsa’s medical records showing a history of heart disease that officials gave as the cause of death were faked by the Iranian government.
Numbers differ regarding how many people have been killed since the protests began.
The ongoing protests in Iran have killed at least 516 people, according to independent estimates.
It is also understood that approximately 20,000 people have been arrested.