The refugee team for the Olympics in Tokyo consists of 29 athletes competing in 12 sports. The International Olympic Committee chose the team on Tuesday from among 55 athletes who fled their home countries and received scholarships to train for the games in a new home country.
The 29 are originally from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Congo, Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela, up from 10 in the initial refugee squad at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
They will participate in swimming, athletics, badminton, boxing, canoeing, cycling, judo, karate, shooting, taekwondo, weightlifting, and wrestling. “You are an important part of our Olympic community, and we warmly welcome you.”
When IOC president Thomas Bach announced the athletes’ selection, he said they would “send a tremendous message of togetherness, resilience, and optimism to the globe.” The team will be led in Tokyo by officials from the IOC and the UNHCR, the Geneva-based refugee agency of the United Nations.
“Surviving conflict, persecution, and the worry of exile already makes them special people,” UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi said in a statement, adding that “the fact that they now compete as sportsmen on the international stage fills me with tremendous pride.”
The refugee athletes will compete against 206 national teams, each with the identity EOR, which stands for the French acronym for the team name. The Tokyo Olympics will take place from July 23 to August 8.