The Refugee Paralympic Team, also known as the world’s most courageous sports team, was unveiled by the International Paralympic Committee for the Tokyo Paralympics 2020.
The team comprising six athletes, including one woman, was revealed in a video featuring Cold Play singer Chris Martin, Bayern Munich defender Alphonso Davies, British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, opera singer Barbara Hendricks, author Khaled Hosseini and footballer Asmir Begovic.
Ibrahim Al Hussein, Alia Issa, Parfait Hakizimana, Abbas Karimi, Shahrad Nasajpour and Anas Al Khalifa form the Refugee Paralympic Team.
The Refugee Paralympic team will compete in athletics, swimming, canoe and taekwondo. They will also be the first team to enter the Olympic Stadium when the Paralympic Games begin on August 24.
Meet the Refugee Paralympic Team
The Refugee Paralympic team will compete under the International Paralympic Committee flag at the Tokyo Paralympics 2020.
The Refugee Paralympic Team has six athletes – five men and one woman.
Ibrahim Al Hussein
Ibrahim Al Hussein
Ibrahim Al Hussein, a Syrian refugee living in Greece, is a para swimmer. Having lost his lower right leg in a bomb blast during the crisis in Syria, he migrated to Turkey and then to Greece finally before restarting his swimming career.
The Tokyo Paralympics 2020 will be Ibrahim Al Hussein’s second Games after participating in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Alia Issa, a club throw athlete, moved to Greece from Syria. Issa is the only female athlete in the Refugee Paralympic Team. A bout of smallpox and high fever left her with brain damage and Alia Issa had to be confined to a wheelchair. Overcoming adversities, including bullying, Alisa Issa will be gunning to make an impact at her first Paralympic Games for the Refugee Paralympic Team.
Abbas Karimi is a para swimmer and was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, without arms. Migrating to Turkey on foot, Abbas Karimi was the first refugee para swimmer to win a world medal when he won silver at the 2017 World Para Swimming Championships in Mexico.
Abbas Karimi took to kickboxing to defend himself from bullies and later took to swimming like a fish to water.
Later, having moved to the United States of America, Abbas Karimi hopes to finish on the podium for the Refugee Paralympic Team.
Anas Al Khalifa
Anas Al Khalifa, a Syrian refugee now living in Germany, will compete in the Tokyo Paralympics 2020 in Para Canoe. The athlete, who used to work on installing solar panels on rooftops in Germany, had a fall and suffered grievous injuries that left him with a permanent dislocation in his leg and a spinal cord injury.
Overcoming hardships, including personal tragedies, Anas Al Khalifa made sure to realize his dream and will look to make it count when he competes in the Tokyo Paralympics 2020.
All set to compete in his second Paralympic Games, Shahrad Nasajpour is a para-athlete in discus throw. Having relocated to the US from Iran, Shahrad Nasajpour was born with a love for sports. A cerebral palsy since birth never deterred the athlete, but he took up athletics as an afterthought, having taken up table tennis first.
Parfait Hakizimana lives in the Mahama Refugee Camp in Rwanda, near the border with Burundi. Having fled his home country due to a civil war, leaving behind a family tragedy, Parfait Hakizimana is all set to compete at the Tokyo Paralympics 2020 in Taekwondo.
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A gunshot meant Parfait Hakizimana’s left arm had to be permanently incapacitated, but sport kept him moving. Overcoming many a family tragedy, Hakizimana is a para athlete who is all set to do a first in Tokyo – being a part of the the Refugee Paralympic Team directly from a refugee camp.