IOC: Refugees eligible to compete in Olympics for 1st time
United Nations : Highly qualified athletes who are refugees will be allowed to compete in the Olympic Games for the first time, the president of the International Olympic Committee announced.
IOC chief Thomas Bach made the announcement to the UN General Assembly which adopted a resolution urging all countries to stop fighting and observe a truce during the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Bach appealed to all 193 UN member states to help the IOC identify talented refugee athletes. “This will be a symbol of hope for all the refugees in
our world, and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis,” he said.
Until now, Bach said, qualified refugee athletes were not able to participate because they couldn’t represent their home country and its national Olympic committee.
But he said the IOC has decided to welcome refugee athletes to the 2016 Olympics where they will live in the Olympic Village alongside the other 11,000 athletes from 206 national Olympic committees.
“Having no national team to belong to, having no flag to march behind, having no national anthem to be played, these refugee athletes will be welcomed to the Olympic games with the Olympic flag and with the Olympic anthem,” he said.
Currently, there are about 20 million refugees in the world and the number is growing. The UN refugee chief, Antonio Guterres, said earlier this month that more than 500,000 refugees and economic migrants have entered Europe this year, and thousands more are following in their footsteps.
Bach said the IOC has created a $2 million fund “to bring hope through sport to refugees.”
“At the same time, we are assisting high-level refugee athletes to continue their sports careers,” he said. “We help them to make their dream of sporting excellence come true even when they have to flee from violence and hunger.”