ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – An Iranian-born Kurdish weightlifter on Tuesday said he will auction his Olympic gold medal to raise money for victims of Sunday night’s devastating earthquake that hit the border areas between the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhelat).
Kianoush Rostami, 26, of Kermanshah in Rojhelat said he will auction the gold medal he won during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games in Brazil to help aid victims affected by the earthquake.
“I consider it my duty to take a step, however small, to help my beloved fellow countrymen who have suffered as a result of the quake,” Rostami was quoted by Iranian state news agency Tasnim.
“I am returning the gold medal, which is theirs by right, to my people,” he added. “I will auction off the medal and use the proceeds to help the quake victims.”
The Kurdish athlete helped Iran win its first ever gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, placing first in the men’s 85-kilogram weightlifting category, setting a new record in the process.
Sunday’s powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake has killed over 400 people and injured hundreds more. Only seven were reported dead in the Kurdistan Region.
Following the late evening quake, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) released a statement asking doctors on duty to be prepared to receive an influx of patients and treat victims of the earthquake across Kurdistan.
In Rojhelat, casualties were much higher due to their proximity to the epicenter, with over 400 people dead and more than 2,600 injured across the region, according to Iranian state media.
The earthquake was also felt in Kurdish regions of Turkey, Kuwait, and other countries in the region.