On December 15, the Afghan Olympic Committee celebrated the re-opening of the newly renovated Ghazi Stadium in Kabul. Hosted by the Afghan Olympic Committee, the event was attended by U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Afghan Olympic President Lieutenant General Mohammad Zaher Aghbar, and Commander of International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan General John Allen.
The event, which also included nearly 5,000 spectators, featured a parade of athletes on the track, opening remarks, a ribbon cutting, and two abbreviated soccer matches involving both men's and women's soccer teams.
The U.S. Government provided grants for the stadium's refurbishment and the re-turf of its playing surface. The new playing field will be Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) certified allowing for future matches to be internationally sanctioned.
The Ghazi Stadium refurbishment project will bring to the forefront a symbol of national pride for furthering the strong sporting culture that exists in Afghanistan and serve as an extremely visible example of the reconstruction progress being made in Afghan civil society. In the recent past, the stadium was used by the Taliban for public executions and the opening will provide a new chapter of Afghan pride and close the door on the ugly past that the stadium once represented.