IOC Refugee Olympic Team Tokyo 2020 to be announced 8 June 2021

More than 50 Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holders will discover if they have made the final cut for the IOC Refugee Olympic Team on Tuesday.

By ZK Goh

With 50 days to go to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in 2021, hype and excitement is reaching new heights.

Among those looking forward eagerly to the Games are the members of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Tokyo 2020, or EOR (équipe olympique des réfugiés).

The day they have been waiting for – finding out who will make up the team – is 8 June 2021, when the EOR will be publicly announced.

The team will be comprised of athletes who are IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holders, of which there are 56 (as of March 2021) representing 12 sports from 13 countries of origin living in 21 host nations.

Yusra Mardini, a member of the Refugee Olympic Team Rio 2016, is one of the Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holders aiming to make the EOR for Tokyo 2020.

She remembers marching into the Opening Ceremony in Rio: "The whole stadium stood up. It was incredible.

"I would not trade this moment for anything in my life, to be honest."

In Tokyo, the EOR will be the second team to enter the stadium, right after Greece. The team will compete under the Olympic flag, and use the Olympic Anthem.

Just as at Rio 2016, Kenya's former marathon world record holder Tegla Loroupe will serve as chef-de-mission.

The Refugee Olympic Team and its athletes are a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide, serving to increase global knowledge and attention of the scale of the international refugee crisis.

The first team was originally announced in October 2015 by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. In March 2016, the IOC Executive Board agreed to create the team to provide potential elite athletes who were affected by the refugee crisis a chance to qualify for and participate at the Olympic Games.

"By welcoming the team of Refugee Olympic Athletes to the Olympic Games Rio 2016, we want to send a message of hope for all refugees in our world," President Bach said then.

In 2016, after the IOC Executive Board approved the team's creation, 43 candidates were shortlisted before a final list of 10 athletes was selected to take part at the Olympic Games in Rio.

All athletes who were considered had received UN refugee status.