IOC Refugee Olympic Team
Tokyo 2020

The Refugee Olympic Team

Athletes Stories


In October 2018, with originally two years to go until the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the IOC Session decided that there would be an  IOC Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020, and entrusted Olympic Solidarity with the task of establishing the conditions for participation and the identification and selection process for a team in Tokyo. This process was 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 Solidarity scholarships, 56 athletes from 21 host countries – 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 – representing 12 sports: athletics, badminton, boxing, canoeing, cycling, judo, karate, taekwondo, sport of shooting, swimming, weightlifting, and wrestling received the financial support that enabled them to train for the Games. 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 made 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 UNHCR.

The IOC Refugee Olympic Team, made up of 29 athletes from 11 countries, competed in 12 sports at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The composition of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Tokyo 2020 was announced on 8 June 2021.

  • It was composed of 25 Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holders from 11 countries who had been living and training in 13 host countries. They represented 12 sports.
  • Four additional athletes from the International Judo Federation Refugee Project completed the mixed judo team, raising the number of team members to 29.
  • The Refugee Olympic Team’s official acronym was (and will remain) EOR, based on the French name: équipe olympique des réfugiés.
  • During the Opening Ceremony, the team marched with the Olympic flag in second position, immediately after Greece.
  • For all official representations of the team (including medal ceremonies), the Olympic flag was to be raised, and the Olympic anthem played.
  • The Refugee Olympic Team’s Chef de Mission was Tegla Loroupe. During the Olympic Games, she was assisted by Deputy Chef de Mission Olivier Niamkey from the IOC and Stephen Pattison from UNHCR in Geneva.
  • Like all the other 206 NOCs taking part in the Olympic Games, the team stayed at the Olympic Village and had its own welcome ceremony there.

The IOC continues to support the refugee athletes beyond the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Download the Tokyo 2020 media kit here

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Olympic Refuge Foundation

Working in cooperation with the United Nations, international organisation, non-governmental organisations and other foundations, the Olympic Refuge Foundation supports the protection and empowerment of vulnerable displaced people through sport, and through the creation of safe spaces.

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