London, Asharq Al-Awsat—As the sporting world’s eyes turn north to Sochi, host of the 22nd Olympic Winter Games that open today, some might be pleasantly surprised to discover that a number of Middle Eastern countries have also send athletes to compete in the games.
Fifteen Middle Eastern athletes representing Iran, Lebanon, Turkey and Morocco will compete at this year’s games. All are skiers, either cross-country or alpine, save a figure-skating pair, Alisa Agafonova and Alper Uçar, who are representing Turkey.
Lebanon, Morocco and Turkey have not declared their flag-bearers for Friday’s opening ceremonies that begin at 20:14 local time. Hossein Saveh Shemshaki will bear the flag for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The games will be broadcast across the Middle East on the OSN network, a pay-TV channel, after it acquired the rights only days before the opening ceremonies.
The following athletes will compete at Sochi:
• Forough Abbasi — alpine skiing
• Mohammad Kiyadarbandsari — alpine skiing
• Farzaneh Rezasoltani — cross-country
• Hossein Saveh Shemshaki — alpine skiing
• Seyed Sattar Seyd — cross-country
• Jacky Chamoun — alpine skiing
• Alexandre Mohbat — alpine skiing
• Alisa Agafonova — figure skating (pairs partner Alper Uçar)
• Kelime Çetinkaya — Cross-country
• Tugba Kocaağa— alpine skiing
• Sabahattin Oğlago — cross-country
• Emre Şimşek — alpine skiing
• Alper Uçar — figure skating (pairs partner Alisa Agafonova)
• Kenza Tazi — alpine skiing
• Adam Lamhamedi — alpine skiing