An Iranian archer has said she did not notice her hijab falling from her head during an awards ceremony in Tehran, after a video appeared to show her allowing the headscarf to drop in what was widely assumed to be a show of support for nationwide protests.
In a video posted on Instagram, Parmida Ghasemi said she had not noticed the hijab falling “due to wind and a lot of stress”.
“This led to reactions which caused some misunderstandings. My family and I have not, nor have ever had, any problem with the hijab. I wanted to apologise to the people, officials and my teammates,” she said, wearing a headscarf in the video.
Her statement prompted comments on social media suggesting it had been made under pressure. Human rights groups say Iranian authorities have a track record of airing forced confessions. Iranian officials reject such accusations.
Iran has been swept by protests since 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in the custody of morality police nearly two months ago after being detained for “inappropriate attire”.
Videos posted on social media purportedly showed Iran’s national basketball team refraining from singing the national anthem during a match with China in Tehran on Friday, after social media videos earlier this week showed the national water polo team also failing to sing it at a competition in Thailand.
A cleric in the northwestern city of Urmia called during prayers on Friday for the punishment of athletes who refrained from singing the national anthem, according to Iranian news agencies.
In the video of the ceremony at the archery competition shared on social media this week, Ghasemi, standing alongside others on a podium, lets her headscarf fall as unseen people in the audience clap and shout “Bravo”. The athlete standing next to her tries to pull up her scarf, but she moves away her head.
Last month, Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi caused controversy by competing in an international competition without a headscarf, later saying she had done so unintentionally and apologising.
Iran’s deputy sports minister, Maryam Kazemipour, said on Wednesday some Iranian female athletes have acted against Islamic norms and then apologised for their actions.
Last week, national beach soccer team players refused to sing Iran’s anthem at the beginning of a match against the United Arab Emirates in Dubai, according to a widely followed activist Twitter account known as @1500tasvir.
Then on Sunday, the players did not cheer or celebrate after defeating Brazil to win the championship, the account said.