Olympic scholarships awarded to 44 refugee athletes ahead of Paris 2024 Games – SABC News

After his father was killed in a conflict, Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed fled his home in Darfur, Sudan, leaving behind his mother and siblings. His only concern was to stay alive.

The thought of competing in a major event like the Olympics could not have been even in his wildest dreams as he traveled through Egypt and the Sinai desert before arriving in Israel.

However, being a refugee no longer means being in no man’s land when it comes to competing in the Olympics. This was after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced in 2015 that for the first time, refugees around the world would have the opportunity to compete in the Rio Olympics.

A move widely welcomed by the sporting community around the world, the team was set up by the IOC to raise awareness of the scale of the global refugee crisis. It was first announced to the world by President Bach during the United Nations General Assembly in 2015.

The goodwill has since continued through to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games where 29 refugee Olympic athletes competed in 12 sports.

Ahead of World Refugee Day on June 20, the IOC announced that 44 refugee athletes had received Olympic scholarships to help them train for selection to the IOC Refugee Olympic Team in Paris in two years. .

They hope to become the first group to obtain a medal for the more than 26 million refugees worldwide.

“We welcome you to the Olympic community and wish you good luck in qualifying. I know what a difficult time it is to go through to qualify for the Olympic Games, and so we admire the way you are rising to the challenge given all the difficulties you have overcome,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. .

Fully-funded IOC scholarships under its Olympic Solidarity program for refugee athletes will provide athletes with the support they need to train and compete in qualifying competitions as they approach of the Paris Olympic Games. 2024.

Coming from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Venezuela, refugee athlete scholarship recipients compete in athletics, badminton, boxing and canoeing. , cycling, judo, karate, shooting, swimming, taekwondo, weightlifting and wrestling.

Their refugee status has been confirmed by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and they are supported by 16 host NOCs (Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Portugal , Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, Turkey, United States of America and Uruguay).

The composition of the IOC Paris 2024 Refugee Olympic Team will be announced in 2024.

The team will compete in Paris under the acronym EOR, which stands for Refugee Olympic Team.

Naomi C. Amerson