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Concerns raised for Iranian climber who competed without hijab

A woman watches a screen displaying a video of Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi competing without a hijab. (AFP via Getty Images)

Concerns are growing over the safety of Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi after the 33-year-old did not wear a hijab during an international competition.

The Iranian government enforces a strict dress code for women, including athletes competing abroad.

The International Federation of Sport Climbing says it is “in contact” with Rebaki, who was returning to Iran after the Asian Championships in South Korea, but multiple reports have claimed she is missing.

“There is a lot of information in the public sphere regarding Ms. Rekabi and as an organization we have been trying to establish the facts,” the federation said in a statement. “We have also been in contact with Ms. Rekabi and the Iranian Climbing Federation.

“We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops on her arrival,” the statement continued.

According to BBC Persia, Rekabi’s loved ones have been unable to contact her for more than 24 hours.

Rekabi flew back to Iran on Tuesday with her teammates, according to both Iranian and South Korean officials. This was confirmed in individual statements from both the Iranian Embassy in Seoul and the South Korean foreign ministry.

An Instagram account that is said to be run by Rekabi posted a statement on its story apologizing for causing concern. The statement also said she didn’t intend to climb without her hijab, but that the garment “unintentionally had a problem.”

There are concerns, though, that the post was not made by Rekabi.

Iran is in the midst of protests regarding the hijab laws, sparked when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested for wearing her hijab too loosely. She died on Sept. 16 after entering custody, with police claiming she had a heart attack. Her family, however, says Amini was healthy when she entered custody, and reports that she was beaten by officials have surfaced.