There are conflicting reports over the fate of Iranian athlete Elnaz Rekabi who competed at the Asian Climbing Competitions finals in Seoul without wearing hijab.
Disobeying the Islamic Republic's restrictions for female athletes, she made history by representing Iran unveiled in support of anti-hijab and antigovernment protests that have been raging across the country since mid-September, when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was killed in custody of hijab police.
Worried that she would be arrested upon arrival, people had organized a huge gathering to welcome her early on Wednesday morning when she was scheduled to arrive back in the country. But, reports came late on Monday that her travel documents were confiscated by officials, who are part of all Iranian sport delegations abroad to monitor and control the behavior of athletes. For some hours, unconfirmed reports said she was prevented from leaving the hotel where the Iranian delegation were staying in Seoul.
The latest on her whereabouts was a post on her Instagram page, in which she said she is on her way back home as scheduled, explaining that she had to appear for the final without head covering due to miscalculations of the final schedule. People on social media do not seem to believe such claims as they are accustomed to fabricated justifications and forced confessions extracted by the Islamic republic’s authorities.
Emphasizing that they are monitoring the case of the Iranian rock climber, the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) said, "There is a lot of information in the public sphere regarding Elnaz Rekabi and as an organization we have been trying to establish the facts. We have also been in contact with Ms. Rekabi and the Iranian Climbing Federation.”
In 2019, boxer Sadaf Khadem attended a boxing match with the Iranian flag and without a headscarf. She had to cancel her return flight to Tehran after a warrant was issued for her arrest.