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Banned at home, Iranian woman attends first volleyball game

Norouzi called the moment an important one to show support from afar for those Iranian women who wanted nothing more than to attend the Rio Olympics

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Sajedeh Norouzi jumped to her feet, both arms reached high into the air, beaming as she waved a small Iranian flag from side to side. Again and again.

She waved at every chance. She waved for every woman back home who couldn't be there alongside her at Maracanazinho arena cheering for the men's volleyball team in its Olympic debut “her first time in a sports stadium because in Iran women aren't allowed to attend all-male sports events.

The 27-year-old Norouzi, wearing a beautiful navy blue headscarf decorated with flowers of pink, yellow, orange and turquoise, insists she represented all of the other Iranian women Sunday night who are fighting to one-day cheer their teams from the stands and not the TV. She had a purpose, and a passion, that she could release at long last sitting beside men who have been able to attend the games all along.

“We want to go to the stadium because the government doesn't allow us to. I want to cheer my team!” Norouzi said, sitting alongside husband Saeed Javdaniyan in a lower section of seats across the court from the team benches of Iran and Argentina.

She was overwhelmed by the special moment, one she couldn't have envisioned even a year ago.

Even if Iran lost in straight sets.

“Very, very much,” Norouzi said. “I've never been in the stadium.”

She and her husband have been in Brazil for four months to study, living in Copacabana. Norouzi called the moment for her “really, really big” and an important one to show support from afar for those Iranian women who wanted nothing more than to attend the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“I think so,” she said, “every woman wants to see the games.”