October 24, 2021

After Rio, the refugee team pursues its Olympic dream at the Tokyo Games

On their bibs, three capital letters substitute the identify of the nation that every athlete represents: ROT for Refugee Olympic Team, specifically the refugee olympic team (EOR). Their delegation will rely 29 sportsmen and women in Japan (21 males and eight ladies), nearly 3 times greater than in earlier Olympics. Six of the ten athletes current in Rio will as soon as once more compete at the Tokyo Games.

The Rio Games marked the nice debut of this choice. Keen to assist elite athletes hit by the international refugee disaster, the Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) has launched funds to assist finance this team. ‘We need to ship a message of hope to all refugees in the world,’ mentioned IOC President Thomas Bach at the time. And to proceed: ‘Whereas they don’t have any nationwide team to belong to, nor any flag behind which to parade, nor any nationwide anthem, these athletes will probably be welcome at the Olympic Games behind the Olympic flag and anthem (…). They are going to present the world that regardless of the unimaginable tragedies they’ve needed to face, anybody can contribute to society by their expertise, items, power or psychological potential. ‘

In Brazil, 10 sportsmen and ladies from South Sudan, Syria, DR Congo and Ethiopia have been capable of take part in athletics, judo and swimming occasions. Their flag bearer was the South Sudanese Rose Nathike Lokonyen, a specialist in the 800 meters, who completed seventh in her qualifying sequence. The younger lady, a refugee in Kenya, then obtained an athlete’s scholarship to proceed coaching and be capable to compete in worldwide competitions. She is going to once more defend the colours of the refugee team in Japan, with the agency intention of attaining a greater efficiency.

Yiech Pur Biel may also play his second Olympics. He’s additionally from South Sudan, which he needed to flee at the age of 10, and can line up for the distance of 800 meters. A member of the Administrative Committee of the Olympic Basis for Refugees, he has participated lately in quite a few actions and initiatives aimed at serving to uprooted younger folks throughout the world to observe sports activities. And in August 2020 he turned the goodwill ambassador of the Workplace of the Excessive Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Kimia Alizadeh, Iran’s first Olympic medalist

The delegation in Japan contains an Olympic medalist, taekwendoist Kimia Alizadeh. Iran’s flag bearer in 2016, she was the first Iranian to win an Olympic medal, bronze in the beneath 57 kilogram class. In January 2020, she introduced to depart her nation for good together with her husband, criticizing the hypocrisy ‘of a system which, in accordance with her, makes use of her sportswomen for political ends and solely’ humiliates’ them.

Kimia Alizadeh discovered refuge in the Netherlands after which in Germany. Aged 21, she hopes to have the ability to get hold of German nationality quickly. She is going to logically symbolize in Japan one among the finest hopes of medals for the refugee team.

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In 2016, Kimia Alizadeh proudly devoted her victory to the ladies of her nation. ‘I’m pleased, not just for myself but in addition for all Iranian women as a result of this medal opens the approach (…) to acquire different medals,’ she mentioned at the time. A feminist struggle carried out by one other athlete, the Afghan bicycle owner Masomah Alizada, a refugee in France together with her household.

‘I need to present all males who assume that biking is just not for girls that (…) all ladies, from any nation, who need to cycle can do it, that it is just a ardour, that it’s our option to put on the garments that we wish, by which we’re comfy, ‘mentioned the younger lady in a video from the Worldwide Biking Union (UCI).

Contacted by Infomigrants after the announcement of the selection for Tokyo by Masomah Alizada, Thierry Communal, one among his coaches in France, insisted on the significance of the message conveyed by this younger 24-year-old lady who has all the time been capable of rely on the help of her father in Afghanistan for the observe of this sport, regardless of threats, insults and even throwing stones.

A Paralympic team of refugees

A minimum of 9 members of this Olympic team are from Syria, the place struggle has been raging for greater than ten years, pushing tens of millions of individuals into exile. Swimmer Yusra Mardini is one among these Syrian athletes and is making ready to compete in her second Olympics. She had instructed au New York Times earlier than the Rio Olympics how she had fled Syria by taking a seat on a frail boat heading for Greece which had sunk and Yusra Mardini then needed to swim for hours to remain alive.

The 23-year-old Aram Mahmoud will take part in his first Games in Japan, in the badminton occasion. Refugee for six years in the Netherlands, he joined a German membership final season. In an interview with the CNN channel website , he evokes the causes for his departure. ‘Leaving my household, my pals, my homeland was actually the hardest factor. I made a decision to flee Syria as a result of I wished to have a greater future and to be secure, to steer a traditional life. And the different motive is that I wished to have extra probabilities to proceed my profession as a badminton participant. ‘

These motivations are a degree in widespread for nearly all the members of this very particular delegation. Regardless of the obstacles, these sportswomen and sportsmen haven’t given up on their Olympic dream, hoping that this world assembly will enable them to focus on those that are preventing for the same destiny. The IOC additionally created this yr a Paralympic Refugee Team made up of six athletes. And all will resound, in the occasion of victory, the Olympic anthem created in 1896 for the Games in Athens.