aljazeera.com
In Pictures
Gallery
Refugee Olympic Team: Highlighting the voice of millions at Tokyo
Squad of 29 refugees trains in Qatar ahead of competing in 12 sports at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The Tokyo 2020 refugee athletes will take part in 12 sports: athletics, badminton, boxing, canoeing, road cycling, judo, karate, shooting, swimming, taekwondo, weightlifting, and wrestling. [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]
By Showkat Shafi and Faras Ghani
14 Jul 2021
Doha, Qatar – Full of enthusiasm, passion and excitement, the Refugee Olympic Team has been training hard in the Qatari capital of Doha in preparation for Tokyo 2020.
The 29-member squad, which will compete across 12 sports at Tokyo 2020, will become the second of its kind to take part in the Olympics after its debut at Rio 2016.
In 2016, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board approved the team’s creation, 10 athletes were selected to take part in the 2016 Olympic Games.
All athletes who were considered had received United Nations refugee status.
A refugee, according to the UNHCR, is “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence”.
“We are honoured to have the opportunity to make a small contribution to the inspiring journey of the Refugee Olympic Team,” Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) President Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani, said at Aspire Zone in Doha on Tuesday.
“The team’s performances will not just inspire billions of people but will also raise awareness about the scale of the global refugee crisis.”
However, the IOC said on Wednesday the squad has been forced to delay its departure to Japan following a positive COVID-19 case by a team official.
“As a consequence, it was decided that the team would currently not travel to Tokyo and will continue their training in Doha while being tested daily,” the IOC said in a statement.
Yusra Mardini, who grew up near the Syrian capital Damascus, will be taking part in her second Olympics with the team. [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]
Advertisement
According to the UN, at the end of 2020, there were 26.4 million refugees across the world, about half of whom are under the age of 18. [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]
While a few athletes have pulled out of the Olympics over COVID concerns, Dina Pouryounes Langeroudi, who fled Iran in 2015, says being at Tokyo 2020 will be a dream come true. “I’m so happy that I’m going to the Olympics. I hope everybody stays healthy but to me, COVID is not a concern,” she told Al Jazeera. [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]
Nigara Shaheen, whose family moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan when she was just six months old, will be part of the judo team. “I love judo,” she told Al Jazeera. “Throughout the struggles of my life, I think the only safe haven and mental calmness for me was sport.” [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]
Tachlowini Gabriyesos fled Eritrea at the age of 12. He will compete in the men’s marathon at Tokyo 2020. [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]
Popole Misenga is one of two members of the team that won a heat or contest at Rio 2016. Misenga was the team’s flagbearer at the closing ceremony and won his opening judo bout in Rio. [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]
Advertisement
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says the refugee team is “a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide, serving to increase global knowledge and attention of the scale of the international refugee crisis”. [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]
President of the QOC, Sheikh Joaan, was at Aspire Zone to meet the team on the final day of the training camp. “We believe strongly in the role sport can play in empowering people and bringing hope at times of great hardship,” he told the athletes. [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]
RELATED
Tokyo 2020 Olympics or­gan­is­ers ‘sor­ry’ to let fans down
Fans will not be able to watch the games in Tokyo and the neigh­bour­ing pre­fec­tures of Saita­ma, Chi­ba and Kana­gawa.
9 Jul 2021
‘Re­gret­table’: Tokyo Olympics to be held with­out spec­ta­tors
Sum­mer Games or­gan­is­er an­nounces no fans in the stands as COVID-19 surge hits Japan.
8 Jul 2021
Japan de­clares COVID emer­gency in Tokyo, mulls fan-free Olympics
As Japan­ese cap­i­tal bat­tles a new wave of COVID cas­es, pres­sure grows on Olympic or­gan­is­ers over spec­ta­tors.
8 Jul 2021
Tokyo 2020 or­gan­is­ers warn of no-fan Olympics as COVID cas­es rise
Au­thor­i­ties say ban­ning fans from venues is still an op­tion with the Games open­ing in just three weeks.
2 Jul 2021
MORE FROM GALLERY
In Pictures: Wildfire in California’s Big Sur forces evacuations
In Pictures: Ukraine on edge amid fears of a Russian invasion
In Pictures: Aftermath of the Tonga eruption, tsunami
In Pictures: Palestinian home demolished in Sheikh Jarrah
MOST READ
Airbus cancels $6bn contract with Qatar Airways after paint fight
US orders families of Ukraine embassy staff to leave on war fears
Omicron ‘sub-variant’ throws up new virus questions
Taiwan reports new large-scale Chinese air force incursion
Follow Al Jazeera English:
© 2022 Al Jazeera Media Network
You rely on Al Jazeera for truth and transparency
We understand that your online privacy is very important and consenting to our collection of some personal information takes great trust. We ask for this consent because it allows Al Jazeera to provide an experience that truly gives a voice to the voiceless. You have the option to decline the cookies we automatically place on your browser but allowing Al Jazeera and our trusted partners to use cookies or similar technologies helps us improve our content and offerings to you. You can change your privacy preferences at any time by selecting ‘Cookie preferences’ at the bottom of your screen.To learn more, please view our Cookie Policy.