Ahead of World Refugee Day on 20 June 2022, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has released the initial list of 44 athletes who have been awarded Olympic Scholarships for Refugee Athletes to help them train towards the goal of being selected for the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Paris 2024.
The 44 athletes come from 12 countries, are hosted by 16 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) across all five continents, and are competing in 12 sports.
Of this initial group, 23 are Olympians who competed as part of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Rio 2016 and/or Tokyo 2020, and three are individual athletes who are new to the scholarship programme.
Addressing the athletes, IOC President Thomas Bach said, "We welcome you to the Olympic community and wish you luck in qualification. I know what a difficult period it is to go through to qualify for the Olympic Games, and so we admire how you are meeting the challenge given all the difficulties you have overcome."
The scholarships are fully funded by the IOC through its Olympic Solidarity programme dedicated to refugee athletes and will provide the athletes with the support they need to train and compete in qualification tournaments in the build-up to the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
Three of the athletes – badminton player Aram Mahmoud, weightlifter Cyrille Tchatchet, and marathon runner Tesfay Felfele – are benefitting from transition scholarships, as they have become or are in the process of becoming citizens of their host countries.
Coming from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Venezuela, the Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holders are competing in athletics, badminton, boxing, 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 being supported by 16 host NOCs (Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Portugal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, Turkey, United States of America, and Uruguay).
The Olympic Scholarships for Refugee Athletes were established following the historic participation of the first IOC Refugee Olympic Team at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
The team was set up by the IOC to raise awareness of the magnitude of the global refugee crisis, and was first announced to the world by President Bach at the 2015 UN General Assembly.
The IOC Refugee Olympic Team Rio 2016 was eventually made up of 10 athletes, who sent a strong symbol of hope to the world through their journeys to the Games and their performances in Rio de Janeiro.
The composition of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team (EOR) Paris 2024 will be announced in 2024.