Jun 14, 2021 - Sports

Olympic Committee selects 29-member refugee team

Kimia Alizadeh after winning bronze in Rio.
Kimia Alizadeh after winning bronze in Rio. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The refugee team for the Tokyo Olympics will feature 29 athletes — up from the 10 who competed on the inaugural team at the 2016 Rio Games.

Details: The IOC selected the team from a pool of 56 athletes, all of whom received scholarships to train after fleeing their home countries.

The 29 athletes originally hail from 11 countries: Afghanistan, Cameroon, Congo, Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Venezuela.

  • They will compete in athletics, badminton, boxing, canoeing, cycling, judo, karate, shooting, swimming, taekwondo, weightlifting and wrestling.

Meet some Olympians:

  • Kimia Alizadeh became the first Iranian woman to win a medal in 2016 (bronze in taekwondo) before fleeing to Germany last year.
  • Masomah Alizada (cyclist) fled to France from her native Afghanistan after she was threatened by the Taliban.
  • Yusra Mardini (swimmer) fled Syria in 2015 due to the Syrian Civil War and now resides in Germany. "Sport was our way out. [It] gave us hope to build out new lives," she said.
  • James Nyang Chiengjiek (runner) fled South Sudan at age 13 to avoid being kidnapped by rebels who were forcibly recruiting child soldiers. He now resides in Kenya.
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