The International Olympic Committee (IOC) plans to announce the Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo Olympic in June, with 55 athletes seeking to compete at the Games. The Refugee Olympic Team debuted at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where 10 athletes were selected to compete across athletics, judo and swimming events.
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A total of 37 refugee athlete scholarship holders were confirmed to be in contention for Olympic 2020 back in 2019. The IOC has said Olympic Solidarity is currently supporting 55 scholarship holders, who are training in the hope of competing at the rescheduled Games in the Japanese capital. The athletes come from 13 countries and are hosted by 21 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) across all five continents.
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Portugal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom are hosting athletes. The athletes represent the sports of athletics, aquatics, badminton, boxing, canoeing, cycling, judo, karate, taekwondo, shooting, weightlifting and wrestling.
“Since the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Olympic Solidarity has invested more than $2 million (£1.4 million/€1.6 million) in support for refugee Olympic scholarship holders preparing for the Olympic Games,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.
The final composition of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team will be announced at the Executive Board in June. It will be based on several criteria. This includes their sporting performance, their confirmed refugee status, as well as balanced representation across sports, regions and genders. World Refugee Day falls on June 20, with the team likely to be announced to coincide with the date.
The IOC added that an agreement has been established with the International Testing Agency to make sure athletes will be tested before the selection. Athletes and their coaches will also be able to access online training around anti-doping, safeguarding and general athlete welfare in the lead-up to the Games.
The IOC has promised to continue to help the refugee athletes who will not go to Tokyo and to support the members of the team after the Olympic Games through various Olympic Solidarity programmers, including helping with their athlete career transition. An update was also provided to the IOC Executive Board on the Olympic Refuge Foundation, formed after the Refugee Olympic Team’s appearance at Rio 2016.
The IOC said 200,000 young people in six countries are benefiting from sports programmers designed to improve their well-being and social inclusion. The organization cited a recently launched Uganda-based project called “Game Connect”, which is supported by a consortium of partners, including the Ugandan Olympic Committee, the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI), UNHCR, Youth Sport Uganda and Right to Play.
Earlier this month, the IOC confirmed the Olympic Refuge Foundation had received a donation from the French Government to support refugees and migrants through sport in France, to launch an initial activity programmed in the Paris region during 2021.
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