Sportco guide to the Refugee Olympic Team participating at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics

UNHCR - Refugee Olympic Team makes history at Rio Games
Source - UNHCR

The Tokyo Olympics 2021 is less than 3 days away and the whole world has been buzzing around on its execution and supporting their respective countries to head up and make an impact all around the globe. 

With the likes of the Great Sporting Nations like the USA, China, and Great Britain, there has been a group of individuals known as the IOC Olympic Refugee Team.

The IOC Olympic refugee team made its debut at the Rio 2016 Olympics with 10 members and 12 officials.  

The 10 athletes who represented in the refugee team consisted of players from the countries like Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, and DPR Congo. 

Now, in Tokyo 2021, the Refugee Olympic Team has been increased significantly from 10 in Rio 2016 to 29 this year.

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.

The 29 athletes will be competing in 12 events like swimming, wrestling, athletics, badminton, boxing, cycling, judo, karate, taekwondo, shooting, and weightlifting.

The 2021 Refugee Olympic team athletes come from 11 countries—Afghanistan, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, the Republic of Congo, and Venezuela.

Why is there a Refugee Olympic Team at the Tokyo Olympics 2021?

A refugee team allows those elite athletes who fled their home countries to represent themselves at the Olympics. 

In 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach mentioned in United Nations (UN), General Assembly, in October 2015, confronting the global refugee crisis that has seen millions of people in the world displaced, and hence, he announced the creation of the Refugee Olympic Team – the first of its kind – to take part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016. 

Criteria for Selection in the Olympics Refugee Team

The selection of the Olympics Refugee team was based on several criteria which included - 

I) Athletes' sporting performance
II) Their refugee status as confirmed by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) 
III) Personal Background, and 
IV) Balanced representativity in terms of sport, gender, and regions

The Refugee Team at the Tokyo 2021 will be represented under the Olympic flag and at the Opening Ceremony, the team will be entering the stadium after Greece which will send a strong message of inclusion and showing the world the strength of the human spirit.

29 refugee athletes to send a message of solidarity and hope to the world  at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 - Olympic News
Source - The Olympics

Composition of the Refugee Team 

The team consists of 25 Refugee Athlete-Scholarship holders from 11 countries who have been living and training in 13 host countries.

The Refugee Olympic Team’s official acronym is EOR, based on the French name: Equipe Olympique des Réfugiés.

For all official representations of the team (including possible medal ceremonies), the Olympic flag will be raised, and the Olympic anthem will be played.

Like all the other 206 NOCs taking part in the Olympic Games, the team will stay at the Olympic Village and get its own welcome ceremony there.

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