It was five years ago in Rio de Janeiro that ten athletes from four different nations were given the opportunity to join the first Refugee Athletes Olympic Team. The IOC created the team in 2015 in partnership with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and established a $1.9 million Refugee Emergency Fund to give refugees the opportunity to integrate into sport.
The creation of the team sent a hopeful and inclusive message to millions of refugees around the world and raised awareness of the harsh situations thousands of people face on a daily basis and the complicated lives they lead.
In its first edition, the team consisted of 10 athletes and today there are 29 athletes from 11 countries, living and training in 13 different countries, making their second appearance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. By country of origin, the majority (nine athletes) are from Syria, five are from Iran, four from South Sudan and three from Afghanistan. Other countries of origin include Eritrea, Iraq, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Sudan and Venezuela.
The group has been competing in 12 sporting categories such as athletics, badminton, boxing and swimming among others.
2 August 2021