The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today received an update on the Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020, the support offered by Olympic Solidarity to the pool of Refugee Athlete Scholarship-Holders and the work of the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF).
Since Rio 2016, Olympic Solidarity has invested more than USD 2 million in support of refugee Olympic scholarship-holders preparing for the Olympic Games.
The Refugee Athlete Scholarship-Holders come from 13 countries and are hosted by 21 NOCs – 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 – and represent 12 sports: athletics, aquatics, badminton, boxing, canoeing, cycling, judo, karate, taekwondo, shooting, weightlifting and wrestling. The 55 Refugee Athlete Scholarship-Holders’ stories can be followed on Refugee Olympic Team social media handles, and under the hashtags #RefugeeOlympicTeam #Tokyo2020 #StrongerTogether #Hope #OlympicRefuge.
The composition of the Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020 will be based on a number of criteria including, first and foremost, each athlete’s sporting performance and their refugee status as confirmed by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Personal background, as well as a balanced representation in terms of sport, gender and regions, will also be considered.
The composition of the Refugee Olympic Team will be decided by the IOC EB at its meeting in June 2021. Members of the team will be invited by the IOC to compete at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
A collaboration has been established with the International Testing Agency (ITA) to make sure athletes will be tested prior to 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 Olympic Games.
The IOC will 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 programmes, including support for athlete career transition.
The IOC EB also received an update on the Olympic Refuge Foundation, which is the next chapter in the IOC’s commitment to providing assistance to refugees, ensuring support 365 days a year across the globe to young people affected by displacement.
Currently, 200,000 young people in six countries are benefiting from sports programmes designed to improve their well-being and social inclusion.
Most recently, the Uganda-based project “Game Connect” was formally launched in Kampala 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. The programme aims to strengthen the mental health and well-being of more than 10,000 young refugees in settlements and urban slums across Uganda.
The Olympic Refuge Foundation recently received a donation from the French Government to support refugees and migrants through sport in France, with a view to launching an initial activities programme in the Paris region during the course of 2021.
The goal of the ORF is to provide one million young people affected by displacement with access to sport by 2024.