Ten refugee athletes will act as a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide and bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis when they take part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016 this summer.
The athletes will compete for the Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) the first of its kind and march with the Olympic flag immediately before host nation Brazil at the Opening Ceremony. The athletes were named to the ROT today by the Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The athletes are:
- Rami Anis (M): Country of origin Syria; host NOC Belgium; sport swimming
- Yiech Pur Biel (M): Country of origin South Sudan; host NOC Kenya; sport athletics, 800m
- James Nyang Chiengjiek (M): Country of origin South Sudan; host NOC Kenya; sport athletics, 400m
- Yonas Kinde (M): Country of origin Ethiopia; host NOC Luxembourg; sport athletics, marathon
- Anjelina Nada Lohalith (F): Country of origin South Sudan; host NOC Kenya; sport athletics, 1500m
- Rose Nathike Lokonyen (F): Country of origin South Sudan; host NOC Kenya; sport athletics, 800m
- Paulo Amotun Lokoro (M): Country of origin South Sudan; host NOC Kenya; sport athletics, 1500m
- Yolande Bukasa Mabika (F): Country of origin Democratic Republic of the Congo; host NOC Brazil; sport judo, -70kg
- Yusra Mardini (F): Country of origin Syria; host NOC Germany; sport swimming
- Popole Misenga (M): Country of origin Democratic Republic of the Congo; host NOC Brazil; sport judo, -90kg
Unveiling the composition of the team, IOC President Thomas Bach said: These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem. We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes of the word. The Olympic anthem will be played in their honour and the Olympic flag will lead them into the Olympic Stadium. This will be a symbol of hope for all the refugees in our world, and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis. It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society. These refugee athletes will show the world that despite the unimaginable tragedies that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talent, skills and strength of the human spirit.
Forty-three promising candidates were initially identified. Selection of the ten athletes was based on consultation with their host National Olympic Committees (NOCs), International Federations, the UNHCR and the NOCs of their countries of origin. Nomination criteria included sporting level, official refugee status verified by the United Nations, and personal situation and background.
Earlier this year the EB approved the operational aspects surrounding the ROT:
- The team will be housed in the Olympic Village like all the other teams;
- The team will get its own welcome ceremony at the Olympic Village, like all other teams;
- The team uniforms will be provided by the IOC;
- For all official representations of the team (including possible medal ceremonies), the Olympic flag will be raised and the Olympic Anthem will be played;
- A proper doping control process will be introduced through the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA); and
- Olympic Solidarity will cover preparation, travel and other participation expenses for the team and will continue to support the athletes of the team after the Olympic Games;
- The IOC will continue to support the refugee athletes even after the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
Following the approval of Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOCs strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, and in light of the current global refugee crisis, the IOC also created a special fund of USD 2 million to develop relief projects through sport in collaboration with NOCs around the world. Over 15 NOCs have already made use of this fund. Details of some of the projects under way can be found here and here.
The IOC already works with a number of United Nations agencies to help refugees around the world. For the last 20 years, the IOC and UNHCR in particular have been using sport to support healing and development among young refugees in many camps and settlements around the world. They have consequently seen thousands of refugees benefit from sports programmes and equipment donated by the IOC.
For broadcast quality footage, quotes and photos of all 10 refugee athletes please visit our our broadcast platform: www.iocnewsroom.com. All Video News Releases on the IOC Newsroom are offered free of charge to all news agencies, broadcasters and online news platforms.
To learn more about the refugee athletes, check out their stories on the Official Olympic Channel on YouTube.