Tokyo Olympics: 29-strong refugee team to take part in 12 sports

09 Jun, 2021 - 14:06 0 Views
Tokyo Olympics: 29-strong refugee team to take part in 12 sports The refugee team was warmly welcomed at the Rio Olympics

The Chronicle

An expanded refugee team of 29 athletes will compete across 12 sports at next month’s Tokyo Olympics.

The team will compete under the Olympic flag and includes people from countries including Syria, South Sudan, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Iran.

It is almost three times as big as the inaugural team at the 2016 Games in Rio.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says the team will provide hope and inspiration to the world.

Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini, who swam to safety when her boat capsized between Turkey and Greece in 2015, will be competing at her second Games.

Also on the team are Kimia Alizadeh, Iran’s first female Olympic medallist when she won bronze in taekwondo at the 2016 Olympics and fellow Iranian canoe racer Saeid Fazloula.

Alizadeh left in 2020 saying she was oppressed as a woman, while Fazloula reached Germany in 2015 via the Balkans.

“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,” said IOC president Thomas Bach

“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.”

The athletes, who will march into the stadium during the opening ceremony in second place behind ancient Games founders Greece, were selected from a pool of 56, supported by Olympic scholarships from 13 different countries.

The IOC’s first refugee team at the Rio Games was designed to raise awareness of the issue as hundreds of thousands of people were arriving into Europe from the Middle East and elsewhere escaping conflict and poverty.

That 10-member team from Syria, Congo, Ethiopia and South Sudan competed in athletics, swimming and judo.

The International Paralympic Committee has plans to send up to six athletes to the Tokyo Paralympics as part of a refugee team. – BBC Sport



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