Olympic gold medalist Kianoush Rostami of Iran is auctioning off his prestigious medal to raise money for the victims of Sunday’s catastrophic earthquake on the Iran-Iraq border, which has left at least 530 people dead and thousands injured.
The 26-year-old weightlifting champion, who earned gold last year in Rio, made the announcement to local news organizations and on social media.
“My gold medal belongs to my people,” Rostami said, according to Tehran Times. “I didn’t sleep in the previous nights due to a sorrowful event.”
The 7.3-magnitude earthquake, which hit Iran’s western Kermanshah Province the hardest Sunday night, was the country’s deadliest earthquake in more than a decade.
As many as 30,000 homes were damaged, and two villages were completely destroyed. In Iraq’s northern Kurdish provinces, nine people were killed and more than 550 others were injured, Reuters reported.
On Tuesday morning, Iranian officials called off search efforts for survivors.
Many of those who survived the quake have been left homeless and are in need of food and shelter from freezing temperatures. Iran has declined offers of foreign assistance, Reuters reported.
Turkey, which felt some of the event’s tremors but didn’t suffer any casualties, has offered aid and assistance to both countries, but only Iraq has accepted, according to the Hurriyet Daily News.
Tehran Times reported that a number of athletes and celebrities will meet at Tehran’s Shahid Shiroudi Stadium on Wednesday to raise money for the victims.