Nine IOC Refugee Olympic Team athletes in action on Saturday at Tokyo 2020

Six athletes will compete in the mixed team judo, one in weightlifting, and two in athletics on an inspirational day at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Picture by 2016 Getty Images

There are no fewer than nine members of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team in action on a busy Saturday (31 July) at Tokyo 2020.

Six of them are competing in the mixed team judo event having already taken part in their respective weight classes.

There are three more team members participating in both weightlifting and athletics.

Read on to find out more.

Javad Mahjoub
Picture by 2021 Getty Images


The IOC Refugee Olympic Team have largely struggled inside the Nippon Budokan.

Out of their six judokas, three men and three women, only Canadian-based Iranian refugee Javad Mahjoub won his opening bout before going down to eventual +100kg gold medallist Lukas Krpalek.

They join forces in Saturday's mixed team event to face Germany in their opener with Mahjoub potentially facing a quick rematch with Johannes Frey who he beat on Friday.

The rest of the team is comprised of Sanda Aldass (-57kg women), Ahmad Alikaj (-73kg men), Muna Dahouk (-63kg women), two-time Olympian Popole Misenga (-90kg men), and Nigara Shaheen (-70kg women).

The contest starts at 11am local time (0200 UTC) with the winners facing a daunting quarter-final clash with hosts and hot favourites Japan.

Read about all the IOC Refugee Olympic Team judokas here:

The inspirational Sanda Aldass: Refugee, mother of three, Olympian

Muna Dahouk makes bow for IOC Refugee Olympic Team

IOC Refugee Athlete Javad Mahjoub stands tall at Tokyo 2020

Ahmad Alikaj: From escaping a war to debuting at an Olympic Games

Nigara Shaheen: The Refugee role model who made it all the way to Tokyo 2020

Popole Misenga represents refugees everywhere at Tokyo 2020


Cyrille Tchatchet II will be hoping to show the world what he can do in the Men's 96kg weightlifting competition on Saturday.

After representing Cameroon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Tchatchet fled the team camp as he felt his life would be in danger if he returned home.

Having contemplated suicide and called the Samaritans hotline at his lowest ebb, he ended up on the streets in Brighton before rebuilding his life.

He completed a degree in mental health nursing and now works for the British National Health Service in London.

As a child, he was inspired to take up weightlifting at 14 when he saw a photo of his uncle practising the sport.

Now 25, he will be hoping to break his own British record as he takes on Group B of the competition which starts at 11.50am local time (0250 UTC).


Dorian Keletela is a rare sprinter in the IOC Refugee Olympic Team athletics squad and hopes to compete against the fastest runners on the planet on Saturday.

Keletela, 22, was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and moved to Portugal five years ago with his aunt after losing both his parents to conflict in his homeland.

He spent over a year in refugee centres before being granted asylum.

Now he races for the famous Sporting Clube De Portugal in Lisbon, best known for their football team often called Sporting Lisbon, and is trained by his hero Francis Obikwelu.

The Athens 2004 silver medallist represented Portugal after arriving from Nigeria at 16, and still jointly holds the European record of 9.86.

Keletela's ambitions in Tokyo are somewhat more modest, but he will be hoping to improve on his personal best of 10.46 set in Lisbon almost exactly a year ago.

He goes in Heat 3 of the preliminary round of the 100m at 11.51am local time (0251 UTC) and has a fair chance of qualifying for the evening's Round 1 where he could be drawn with the likes of Trayvon Bromell and Akani Simbine.

Elsewhere, James Nyang Chiengjiek will compete in the men's 800m at 10.06am local time (0102 UTC).

It will be the South Sudan-born runner's second appearance in the IOC Refugee Olympic Team.


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