IOC Refugee Olympic Team – A message of hope and solidarity
The Refugee Olympic Team (EOR) is participating at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 with 29 athletes competing in 12 sports. The Team is sending a message of hope and solidarity to the over 80 million forcibly displaced people in the world.
The Refugee Olympic Team sends a great signal about what an enrichment refugees are for our Olympic community and for society at large. Watching them compete is a great moment for all of us, and we hope everyone will join. The athletes are welcome in our Olympic community, among their fellow athletes – competing with them but also living with them together under one roof.Thomas Bach IOC President
At the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in October 2015, confronted with the global refugee crisis that has seen millions of people in the world displaced, IOC President Thomas Bach announced the creation of the Refugee Olympic Team – the first of its kind – to take part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
Ten months on from the announcement, 10 athletes, who originally hailed from Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, were competing alongside 11,000 fellow athletes in Brazil, sending a message of hope and inclusion to millions of refugees around the world and inspiring the world with the strength of their human spirit.
This unique project demonstrates the IOC’s commitment to stand with refugees and support them through sport, and it also shows how Olympic Solidarity, through its Refugee Athlete Support Programme, helps refugee athletes not only to train with the aim of qualifying for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 but also to continue their sporting career and build their future.
This will be a symbol of hope for all refugees in the world, and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis. It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to societyThomas Bach IOC President
In October 2018, with originally two years to go until the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the IOC Session decided that there would be a Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020, and entrusted Olympic Solidarity with the task of establishing the conditions for participation and defining the identification and selection process for a team in Tokyo. This process was being carried out in close collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the National Olympic Committees, the International Sports Federations and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee.
Through “Olympic Scholarships for Refugee Athletes”, a dedicated programme created after Rio, Olympic Solidarity supported 56 promising refugee athletes from 13 countries.
The programme offers National Olympic Committees (NOCs) the opportunity to identify refugee athletes living in their countries and support them throughout their training, preparation and participation in high-level competitions.
The scholarships provided the 56 athletes with the financial support that enabled them to train for the Games while continuing their sporting career and building for their future. The grants were extended for a further year following the postponement of Tokyo 2020, bringing the total investment by Olympic Solidarity in support of refugee Olympic scholarship-holders preparing for the Olympic Games to USD 2 million since Rio 2016.
The 29 athletes who make up the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Tokyo 2020 were selected from among these scholarship-holders 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).
Following the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the members of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Tokyo 2020 were announced on 8 in June 2021.