Women's sports will not be allowed in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Taliban officials say. Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the Taliban's cultural commission, tells Australian broadcaster SBS that the country's new rulers see no need for women to play sports including cricket, Afghanistan's most popular sport. "I don't think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket," Wasiq says. "In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this."
"It is the media era, and there will be photos and videos, and then people watch it," Wasiq says. "Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed." Many sportswomen in the country have been in hiding since the Taliban takeover, the Guardian reports. Some women say Taliban fighters have warned them against playing sports. The country's national cricket board has suspended its program for girls, though board officials say they haven't been notified of a ban.
Dozens of female athletes have fled the country, including 25 members of the Afghan girls cycling team who arrived in the United Arab Emirates Monday for processing before going to Canada. "I want to prove that the girls are capable, that girls have the right to do what they want," one cyclist tells CNN. "They are allowed. They should be allowed to do their studies, to do any sport they want and to have a life that they are supposed to have." (An interim government announced Tuesday is all-male and all-Taliban.)