IOC Refugee Olympic Team to represent more than 100 million displaced people at the Olympic Games Paris 2024

Thirty-six athletes from 11 different countries, hosted by 15 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and competing across 12 sports were named recently as members of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team for Paris 2024. The announcement was made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, Thomas Bach, during a live-streamed ceremony from Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland. Appearing at the Olympic Games for the third time, the IOC Refugee Olympic Team will represent the many millions of displaced people around the world.

According to UNHCR, there were an estimated 114 million people forcibly displaced worldwide as of September 2023.

“We welcome all of you with open arms. You are an enrichment to our Olympic Community, and to our societies. With your participation in the Olympic Games, you will demonstrate the human potential of resilience and excellence. This will send a message of hope to the more than 100 million displaced people around the world. At the same time, you will make billions of people around the world aware of the magnitude of the refugee crisis. Therefore, I encourage everyone, around the world, to join us in cheering for you – the IOC Refugee Olympic Team,” IOC President Thomas Bach said, when addressing all of the team members, who had joined the meeting virtually.

The composition of the team was approved by the IOC Executive Board (EB) and was based on a number of criteria including, first and foremost, each athlete’s sporting performance and their refugee status as verified by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Beyond that, the team represents the more than 100 million displaced people around the world. Consideration has also been given to a balanced representation of sport and gender, as well as the spread of countries of origin. See the full list of athletesLink is external.

Chef de Mission for the Refugee Olympic Team Masomah Ali Zada, who competed for the Refugee Olympic Team at Tokyo 2020, and was present today during the ceremony, welcomed the athletes: “All of you had a dream, and today your dream to compete at the Olympic Games is closer than ever. With all the challenges that you have faced, you now have a chance to inspire a new generation, represent something bigger than yourselves and show the world what refugees are capable of.”

She added: “I want to tell you: this will be your moment in Paris, enjoy it. I am looking forward to working with all of you to make this the experience of a lifetime.”

The vast majority of the athletes were selected from among the refugee athletes supported by the IOC through the Refugee Athletes Scholarship Programme, funded by the IOC’s Olympic Solidarity programme and managed by the Olympic Refuge Foundation.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said: “The Refugee Olympic Team should remind us of the resilience, courage and hopes of all those uprooted by war and persecution. These athletes represent what human beings can do, even in the face of extreme adversity. The team also reminds us that sport can be transformative for people whose lives have been disrupted in often harrowing circumstances. Transformative not just for Olympians, but for everyone. Sport can offer respite, an escape from daily worries, a sense of safety, a moment of enjoyment. It can give people the chance to heal physically and mentally, and become part of a community again.”

An emblem for millions forcibly displaced

For the first time, the Refugee Olympic Team will compete under its own team emblem – a unifying symbol bringing together diverse athletes and giving the team its own unique identity.

Hailing from different corners of the world, each team member is an individual with their own story. Like the many millions they stand for, they also have the shared, lived, experience of their journeys – the emblem aims to convey this through its way marker arrow design.

At the centre of the emblem there is a heart, originating from the Olympic Refuge Foundation logo, to represent the belonging the team hopes to inspire and that athletes and displaced people around the world have found through sport.

Ms Ali Zada said: “This emblem brings us all together. We are all unified by our experience – though all different, we have all had a journey to get to where we are. The athletes are not representing a specific country, they are representing the Refugee Olympic Team – having our own emblem creates a sense of belonging and empowers us to also stand for the population of more than 100 million people who share this same experience. I cannot wait to wear it proudly!”

From the Olympic Games to supporting displaced people at all levels

Supporting refugees and displaced populations remains a key priority for the IOC, and is part of Recommendation 11 of Olympic Agenda 2020+5. The Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF) was established in 2017 to build on this commitment. The Foundation functions in lieu of a traditional National Olympic Committee, managing the Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holders and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team for Paris 2024.

In addition to supporting elite athletes in their participation in the Olympic Games, the ORF works to provide access to safe sport for people affected by displacement worldwide. Through partnerships or its programmes across the globe, the ORF aims to build a movement where displaced people can enjoy the benefit of sports, wherever they may be, and through which sports can be adopted at all levels as a tool for supporting for refugees.

Since its inception in 2017, the work of the ORF has resulted in almost 400,000 young people being able to access safe sport. More than 1,600 coaches have been trained in delivering safe sport sessions, and its programmes have supported young people in 11 countries across all five continents.

Follow their journey on social media

As the 36 athletes prepare to compete at the Olympic Games Paris 2024, their progress can be followed on social media:

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