Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi made headlines on Tuesday, October 18, when news broke out that she had gone missing in South Korea, less than 48 hours after participating in an international tournament without wearing a hijab.

According to reports, Rekabi’s friends could not contact her since Sunday, October 16. As per the BBC, the passport and mobile phone of the Iranian climber were also confiscated. She was in South Korea to compete at the Asian Championships following which she became missing.

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However, the Iran Wire, an anti-regime news website based out of the country, reported that the athlete was taken to Iran’s embassy in the South Korean capital Seoul, from where she would be flown back to the Imam Khomeini international airport in Tehran on Tuesday. However, the report was not verified.

Who is Elnaz Rekabi?

Elnaz Rekabi is an Iranian sport climber who went missing in South Korea after competing in an international competition on Sunday, October 16, 2022. She was in the country to participate in the 2021 IFSC Climbing World Championships where she won the bronze medal in the combined event of the women’s category.

Rekabi was born on July 20, 1989, in the city of Zanjan in northwest Iran. She rose to prominence when she decided to join the anti-hijab protests that were going on in Iran, as she participated in a competition in South Korea.

Following her disappearance, the Iranian embassy in Seoul issued a response to the matter, saying that the climber “departed from Seoul to Iran, early morning of October 18, 2022, along with the other members of the Team.”

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“The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in South Korea strongly denies all the fake, false news and disinformation regarding Ms. Elnaz REKABI,” the response added.

Rekabi is also the first female climber from Iran to a podium finish in a sport climbing world championship in 2021. Video footage of her climb was shared on several social media platforms which showed her performance in South Korea, where she did not wear a hijab but had her hair tied in a ponytail at the event.