Athletes from 57 countries, including Afghanistan, will compete between Friday and May 22 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
17 Afghan Athletes Off To Azerbaijan For Islamic Solidarity Games
A group of 17 Afghan athletes in different sports categories including wrestling, judo, woshu, swimming and a disabled persons team left Kabul on Wednesday for Azerbaijan to attend the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games.
The athletes include five woshu fighters, three judoka, five wrestlers, two swimmers and two disabled athletes as well as five members of the National Olympic Committee’s delegation.
“A total of 30 athletes and coaches will attend the big event. We were ready to send 110 individuals but due to lack of government’s financial support 70 athletes were deprived of going to the event,” said Ehsanullah Nero, spokesman for the National Olympic's Committee.
“The trip to Azerbaijan for the Islamic Solidarity Games has been facilitated by the National Olympic's Committee,” said Nazir Ahmad Naseri, a member of the disabled athlete's team.
“All the athletes are fully ready for the event. We train three times a day,” said Bilal Ahmad, a member of the Woshu team.
Azerbaijan is all set to host the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games that will begin in the capital, Baku, on Friday.
The games, which involve more than 3,000 athletes from Organization of Islamic Conference member countries, will see competitions in 21 different sports categories.
The games include athletics and para athletic events, rhythmic gymnastics, table tennis, wrestling, basketball, handball, taekwondo, wushu, boxing, judo and blind judo, tennis, diving, karate, volleyball, football, shooting, water polo, artistic gymnastics, swimming and weightlifting, according to the official website of Baku 2017.
The Islamic Solidarity Games was first held in Saudi Arabia in 2005 and drew 6,000 athletes from 55 nations competing in 15 different sports categories.
The second edition of the games, which was supposed to take place in Iran in 2009, was later cancelled due to a diplomatic crisis over the use of the term, "Gulf countries". Iran had put the term "Persian Gulf" on the logo of the tournament, while Arab nations called the same waterway as the "Arabian Gulf".
The third edition of the games was held in Indonesia in 2013. The Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF) has selected Turkey as the host of the fifth games in 2021.
Azerbaijan's envoy to Ankara Faig Bagirov told Anadolu Agency the games will "help increase solidarity among Muslim countries as well as turn the event into a big sports festival.
"Azerbaijan is working very hard to preserve Islam's religious and cultural values, while promoting multi-culturalism."
He also noted the games would be held at a time when xenophobia and Islamophobia were on the rise around the world.