Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi apologizes after competing without a headscarf

Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi performing in public without wearing a hijab during the finals of the International Federation of Sport Climbing Asian Championships in South Korea's capital Seoul.

Elnaz Rekabi publicly competes without headscarf during International Federation of Sport Climbing Asian Championships finals (Image: CEN)

An Iranian mountaineer competed without a headscarf because it accidentally fell off, according to a post on her Instagram account – prompting fears authorities were forcing her to make the statement.

Elnaz Rekabi, 33, was hailed as a hero when she went uncovered at the Asian Games in Seoul amid protests at home over strict dress code rules.

After Sunday’s competition, she disappeared, friends were unable to contact her before she reappeared with the social media post.

“I apologize for what I did to upset you,” the post read. She added that she was in a hurry and her headscarf “accidentally” fell off.

Some observers said the language used appears to have been written under duress. They pointed out that other athletes had reported having to make similar apologies after competing without a headscarf at events abroad.

Iran denied speculation she could face arrest, and the Instagram statement said she was heading home “along with the team according to the agreed schedule.”

The fear for the Iranian athlete Elnaz Rekabi, who started without a headscarf, is growing

Fear has grown for Iranian athlete Elnaz Rekabi, who competed without a headscarf (Image: International Federation of Sport Climbing)

Her brother was quoted by a pro-state news outlet as saying she would “explain the details” at a press conference and continue to play for the Iran national team.

Ms Rekabi’s appearance at the games came as protests sparked by the death of a woman in custody entered their fifth week.

Mahsa Amini, 22, was arrested by morality police for allegedly not wearing the hijab properly.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/10/19/iranian-climber-elnaz-rekabi-apologises-after-competing-without-hijab-17589499/ Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi apologizes after competing without a headscarf

Justin Scacco

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