Weightlifter Kianoush Rostami won his gold medal in Rio last summer but says it belongs to the people of his home country.
Rostami, 26, is auctioning off his medal to raise money for those affected by the 7.3-magnitude earthquake that rocked the Iran-Iraq border on Sunday, killing at least 530 and injuring thousands more.
“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 said, according to Tasnim, an Iranian news agency.
“I am returning the gold medal, which is theirs by right, to my people. I will auction off the medal and use the proceeds to help the quake victims.”
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At least two villages and 30,000 homes have been destroyed in the western Kermanshah Province as a result of the earthquake — the largest the country has experienced since 2003’s 6.6-magnitude quake that killed more than 26,000.
The Iranian government called off the search for survivors on Tuesday and although thousands have been left homeless and in need of food, shelter and other necessities, Iran has declined aid offers from foreign nations, Reuters reported. Only Iraq, also suffering from the quake, has accepted an offer of help from nearby Turkey, according to the Hurriyet Daily News.
The weightlifting champion’s Instagram offers two phone numbers and an email address ([email protected]) for anyone who’d like to make a bid.
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