On August 24, 2021, the Paralympics started. And during the opening ceremony, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) chose to display the Afghanistan flag, as an 'act of solidarity and peace', because the country could not participate after the Taliban takeover.
Two athletes from Afghanistan, Taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi (first female athlete to represent Afghanistan) and track athlete Hossain Rasouli were supposed to attend the Paralympics.
But after the Taliban takeover, flights out of Kabul were canceled and they had to withdraw. As photos of the opening ceremony surfaced on social media, people commented on IPC's decision to display the Afghan flag:
Well done @Paralympics for parading the Afghan flag despite there being no delegation.— Deadliftbear (@deadliftbear) August 24, 2021
A #Tokyo2020 volunteer is carrying the Afghanistan flag into the Olympic Stadium. People stood and clapped loudly when Afghanistan was called. Our Afghan brothers and sisters should be here. 🇦🇫 #Paralympics pic.twitter.com/44bdegACTQ— Melanie Brock (@melaniebrockjpn) August 24, 2021
Afghanistan Paralympics Team's Chef de Mission @ArianSadiqi responding to the International Paralympic Committee's gesture of solidarity in displaying the Afghan flag at #Tokyo2020 #Paralympics opening ceremony tonight. 🇦🇫 https://t.co/WiwbA7g24Q— Indounik (@Indounik) August 24, 2021
It was so nice to see the Afghan flag in the opening ceremony of the Paralympics— Nathan 🇧🇬 | Intelligence Era :) (@NathBoshkovLCF1) August 24, 2021
Afghanistan’s 🇦🇫 national flag at the #Paralympics opening ceremony. Thinking about the Afghan athletes who were supposed to be there and are not. So many dashed dreams. #Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/LmujZ6JCaa— Asieh Namdar (@asiehnamdar) August 24, 2021
Many people, including Afghan nationals, have commented that the Taliban takeover is likely to push the country back by 20 years, to a time when women had little to no rights and most forms of art and culture were banned.