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IOC names 29-strong Olympic Refugee Team for Tokyo 2020

A total of 29 athletes from 12 sports will form the Olympic Refugee Team at Tokyo 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced.

The chosen competitors, selected from a group of 55 promising refugee athletes from 13 countries that were given IOC scholarships, are set to compete across athletics, badminton, boxing, canoeing, cycling, judo, karate, taekwondo, shooting, swimming, weightlifting and wrestling at the Games.

The squad, which features athletes from 13 host National Olympic Committees, includes six which competed on the first Olympic Refugee Team at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

These are swimmer Yusra Mardini, judoka Popole Misenga, and track and field athletes Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, James Nyang Chiengjiek, Paulo Amotun Lokoro and Rose Nathike Lokonyen.

Alaa Maso is also set to compete in swimming, while Misenga is one of six judoka selected for the team by the IOC, joining Sanda Aldass, Ahmad Alikaj, Muna Dahouk, Javad Mahjoub and Nigara Shaheen.

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Dorian Keletela, Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed and Tachlowini Gabriyesos have been chosen as the other track and field athletes.

Badminton player Aram Mahmoud, boxers Wessam Salamana and Eldric Sella Rodriguez, canoeist Saeid Fazloula and cyclists Masomah Ali Zada and Ahmad Badreddin Wais have also been picked for the team.

They have been selected alongside karateka Wael Shueb and Hamoon Derafshipour, shooter Luna Solomon, taekwondo players Dina Pouryounes Langeroudi, Kimia Alizadeh and Abdullah Sediqi, weightlifter Cyrille Fagat Tchatchet and Greco-Roman wrestler Aker Al Obaidi.

Alizadeh won a bronze medal at Rio 2016 aged 18, representing Iran, but fled the country last year.

The team is nearly three times the size of the 10-strong refugee team at Rio 2016, and includes 10 men and nine women.

“I speak on behalf of the entire Olympic Movement when I say that we cannot wait to meet you in person and to see you compete in Tokyo,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.

“When you, the IOC Refugee Olympic Team and the athletes from the National Olympic Committees from all over the globe, finally come together in Tokyo on 23 July, it will send a powerful message of solidarity, resilience and hope to the world.

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“You are an integral part of our Olympic community, and we welcome you with open arms.”

Members of the squad are set to gather for the first time as a team at the Aspire Academy in Doha on July 12 and 13, before they fly to Tokyo the following day.

Waseda University will host the team for a pre-Games training camp prior to the competitors moving into the Athletes’ Village.

During the Opening Ceremony, the EOR Team will march with the Olympic flag in second position, immediately after Greece.

For all official representations of the team, including possible medal ceremonies, the Olympic flag will be raised, and the Olympic anthem played.

The Team’s Chef de Mission will be former world marathon record holder Tegla Loroupe, a position the Kenyan also fulfilled at Rio 2016.

She will again be assisted by Deputy Chef de Mission Stephen Pattison from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva.

“The participation of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team in the Tokyo 2020 Games, which will be both a festival of sport and a celebration of peace, will draw the world’s attention to the issue of refugees and further advance efforts to achieve world peace through the elimination of the wars and conflicts that cause people to flee their homeland,” said Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto.

“I hope all athletes selected for the IOC Refugee Olympic Team will be able to perform at their personal best at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

“We will also continue to work closely with the IOC and other relevant parties as we make every effort to ensure a safe and secure stay in Japan for the IOC Refugee Olympic Team and their hosts.”

The announcement of the team was streamed live but some complained of not being able to view the video because of the global internet outage that affected the websites of some of the world’s largest companies.

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