The International Olympic Committee has officially announced the names of 29 athletes who will be representing the Refugee Olympic Team at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics next month. The team was selected from a total of 55 athletes, who were compelled to leave their home countries and take refuge elsewhere.
The Refugee Olympic team had just 10 athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympics, so there is a significant increase in the number this time around. The 29 athletes are set to compete in 12 different sporting events at the Tokyo Olympics, including swimming, wrestling, athletics, badminton, boxing, cycling, judo, karate, taekwondo, shooting, and weightlifting.
The athletes on the 2021 Refugee Olympic Team are originally from Afghanistan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Iran, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Iraq, and Syria. Kimia Alizadeh, who became the first Iranian female Olympic medalist by winning a Bronze medal in taekwondo at the Rio Olympics, is part of the Refugee Olympic Team at the Tokyo Olympics.
IOC President Thomas Bach had this to say while announcing the names of the athletes for the Refugee Olympic Team:
"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."
Why is there a Refugee Olympic Team?
The Refugee Olympic Team was first introduced by the International Olympic Committee for the 2016 Rio Olympics. It is giving an opportunity to those athletes who fled their home countries to compete in their respective sporting events at the Olympics. Eligible athletes are provided with scholarships from the IOC for training in the country where they have taken refuge.
In 2016, IOC President Thomas Bach officially said that they would send five to ten refugees to the Rio Olympics as part of their effort to express solidarity with refugees across the world. The team was initially named the 'Team of Refugee Olympic Athletes' and was later changed to the 'Refugee Olympic Team'. Ibrahim al-Hussien was the flagbearer for the first-ever refugee team in 2016.
The Rio-bound Refugee Olympic Team received funding of $2 million from the International Olympic Committee. For athletes to be eligible for the refugee team, the IOC takes into consideration their sporting ability, personal circumstances, and United Nations-verified refugee status.
List of 29-member Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo Olympics:
Track and Road:
Dorian Keletela (100m), James Chiengjiek (800m), Paulo Amotun Lokoro (1500m), Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed (5000m), Tachlowini Gabriyesos (Marathon), Rose Lokonyen (800m), and Anjelina Lohalith (1500m).
Aram Mahmoud (Men's Singles).
Wessam Salamana (Men's Lightweight) and Eldric Sella Rodriguez (Men's Middleweight).
Ahmad Wais (Men's Time Trial) and Masomah Ali Zada (Women's Time Trial).
Sanda Aldass, Ahmad Alikaj, Muna Dahouk, Javad Mahjoub, Popole Misenga, and Nigara Shaheen.
Luna Solomon (Women's 10m Air Rifle).
Alaa Maso (Men's 50m Freestyle) and Yusra Mardini (Women's 100m Butterfly).
Saeid Fazloula (Men K-1 1000m).
Hamoon Derafshipour (-67 kg) and Wael Shueb (Kata).
Abdullah Sediqi (Men's 68 kg), Dina Pouryounes (Women's 49 kg) and Kimia Alizadeh (Women's 58 kg).
Aker Al-Obaidi (Men's 67 kg Greco-Roman).
Cyrille Fagat Tchatchet II (Men's 96 kg).
Also Read: India at Tokyo Olympics 2021: Hockey