Tokyo 2020: 29 refugee athletes to send message of solidarity, hope

·3-min read
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Olympics logo

Lausanne [Switzerland], June 8 (ANI): Twenty-nine athletes competing across 12 sports and from 13 host National Olympic Committees (NOCs) will be part of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Refugee Olympic Team (EOR) Tokyo 2020.

The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday approved the composition of the team. The athletes were selected from among the refugee athletes currently supported by the IOC through the Olympic Scholarships for Refugee Athletes programme.

"They will send a powerful message of solidarity and hope to the world this summer, bringing further awareness to the plight of over 80 million displaced people worldwide," an IOC release said.

The 29 athletes met for the first time on Tuesday in a virtual ceremony during which IOC President Thomas Bach officially announced their participation in the Games in Tokyo this summer.

Addressing the athletes, the IOC President said: "Congratulations to all of you. I speak on behalf of the entire Olympic Movement when I say that we cannot wait to meet you in person and to see you compete in Tokyo. When you, the IOC Refugee Olympic Team and the athletes from the National Olympic Committees from all over the globe, finally come together in Tokyo on July 23, it will send a powerful message of solidarity, resilience and hope to the world. You are an integral part of our Olympic community, and we welcome you with open arms."

UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi congratulated the athletes.

"I am thrilled to congratulate each of the athletes who have been named in the Refugee Olympic Team Tokyo 2020. They are an exceptional group of people who inspire the world. UNHCR is incredibly proud to support them as they compete at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Surviving war, persecution and the anxiety of exile already makes them extraordinary people, but the fact that they now also excel as athletes on the world stage fills me with immense pride. It shows what is possible when refugees are given the opportunity to make the most of their potential"

The team will compete under the Olympic flag. At the Opening Ceremony on July 23, the athletes will enter the stadium in second position immediately after Greece, sending a strong message of inclusion, and showing the world the strength of the human spirit.

The selection of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Tokyo 2020 was based on a number of criteria including, first and foremost, each athlete's sporting performance and their refugee status as confirmed by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Personal background, as well as a balanced representation in terms of sport, gender and regions, were also considered.

Like all teams at the Olympic Games, the IOC Refugee Olympic Team will have its own entourage to meet all the required technical needs of the athletes. Olympian and former marathon world record-holder Tegla Loroupe will be the team's Chef de Mission, reprising her role from the Olympic Games Rio 2016, while Stephen Pattison from UNHCR and Olivier Niamkey from the IOC will act as the Deputy Chefs de Mission. They will lead a delegation of 20 coaches and team officials, while Olympic Solidarity will cover travel and all other participation expenses for the team. (ANI)