TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 23: Flag bearers Yusra Mardini and Tachlowini Gabriyesos of The Refugee Olympic Team during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
(Photo by Patrick Smith / Getty Images)
(CNN Spanish) -
(CNN Spanish) -
The Olympic Refugee Team, made up of 29 athletes from 11 countries, who live and train in 13 host countries, makes its second appearance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The group will be competing within 12 sports categories such as athletics, badminton, boxing, swimming, among others.
And this year, Venezuelan boxer Eldric Sella Rodríguez joins the team.
According to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), an organization that provides aid to refugees, asylees or those who are persecuted for ethnic, political or religious reasons, in 2015 the International Olympic Committee established an Emergency Fund for Refugees of US $ 1.9 million for people with refugee status to join the sport, and that same year a group of refugee athletes was invited to compete in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Members of the Refugee Olympic Team participate in the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, 2016. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP via Getty Images)
"The creation of the refugee team sent a message of hope and inclusion to millions of refugees around the world," says the organization IRC.
In its first edition, the team consisted of 10 athletes from Syria, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia.
The organization indicates that the Olympic Refugee Team sends a message of solidarity and hope during a refugee crisis of 82.4 million people who have been forcibly displaced around the world by 2020, according to figures from the High Commissioner for the United Nations for Refugees (UNHCR).
Athletes who have had to leave the Olympic Games due to covid-19
More than two-thirds of all refugees registered by the UNHCR correspond to Venezuela with a total of 4.9 million people who have left the country by the end of 2020.
This year, the 29 athletes that make up the Olympic Refugee Team are from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Eritrea, Iran, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, South Sudan and Venezuela.
Here we tell you who these athletes are and in which category they will be competing during the Tokyo Olympics.
The boxer Eldric Sella Rodríguez, originally from Caracas, Venezuela —and who now lives in Trinidad and Tobago— narrates on his personal blog that the first time he stepped on a boxing gym was at age 9 and at age 15 he participated in his first championship national.
However, "for things in life I was forced to leave my country and with that (I believed) the opportunity to make my dream come true," wrote Sella Rodríguez.
However, in 2020 he was selected by the IRC to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (2021).
Eldric has dreamed of going to the Olympics all his life.
Now the Venezuelan boxer is vying for a spot on the @RefugeesOlympic Team.
- UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) June 6, 2021
Taekwondoka Abdullah Sediqi, who now lives in Belgium, judoka Nigara Shaheen, who now lives in Russia, and cyclist Masomah Ali Zada, who now lives in France, are part of the Tokyo 2020 refugee team.
"Raised in a country where women playing sports are considered inappropriate, Masomah Ali Zada decided to flee to France to pursue her cycling dreams. Now she hopes to inspire girls around the world in Tokyo 2020," read a tweet from the official account of the Olympic Refugee Team.
Raised in a country where females practicing sport is seen as inappropriate, Masomah Ali Zada decided to flee to France in order to pursue her cycling dreams.
She now hopes to inspire young girls around the world at # Tokyo2020.
🚴🏿 # RefugeeOlympicTeam # StrongerTogether @ refugees pic.twitter.com/VZc3O1Ks4L
- Refugee Olympic Team (@RefugeesOlympic) July 10, 2021
Cyclist Ahmad Badreddin Wais, who now lives in Switzerland.
According to the official site of the Tokyo Olympics, Badreddin started cycling at age 14, but after war broke out in his country, he made the decision to leave Syria and escape to Europe.
Also originally from Syria are the judokas Muna Dahouk and Sanda Aldass, who now live in the Netherlands and Ahmad Alikaj, who now lives and trains in Germany;
swimmers Alaa Maso and Yusra Mardini, who now live in Germany;
badminton player Aram Mahmoud, who now lives in the Netherlands;
the karate fighter, Wael Shueb, who currently resides in Germany;
and boxer Wessam Salamana, who also lives in Germany.
Wessam Salamana competed for Syria at London 2012, but had to leave the war-torn country in 2015 to settle in Germany.
He is now taking a swing at a second Olympics in Tokyo.
🥊 # RefugeeOlympicTeam #StrongerTogether #Hope # Tokyo2020 #OlympicRefuge pic.twitter.com/4EBJlWLBnm
- Refugee Olympic Team (@RefugeesOlympic) July 1, 2021
According to the Olympic team account, wrestler Aker Al Obaidi, who now lives in Austria, fled "from his war-torn home country" but the sport helped him advance.
After fleeing his war-torn home country, wrestler Aker Al Obaidi relied on sport to help him move forward.
Now, his mind is set on one goal ... winning a medal at # Tokyo2020 as part of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team.
🤼♂️ # RefugeeOlympicTeam #StrongerTogether #Hope @refugees pic.twitter.com/7HZrS2YWP7
- Refugee Olympic Team (@RefugeesOlympic) July 21, 2021
On the track team are James Nyang Chiengjiek and Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, who now live in Kenya;
and Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed, who now lives in Israel.
Refugee runner Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa hopes to follow the footsteps of his hero @lopezlomong as he prepares for his Olympic debut at # Tokyo2020.
#RefugeeOlympicTeam #StrongerTogether #Hope # OlympicRefuge @ refugees pic.twitter.com/nPuvWA3eW8
- Refugee Olympic Team (@RefugeesOlympic) July 13, 2021
"From suffering depression while awaiting his asylum application, to becoming a mental health nurse and then qualifying for Tokyo," reads a tweet from the Olympic Refugee Team that talks about weightlifter Cyrille Fagat Tchatchet II, who now lives in the Kingdom. United.
From suffering from depression while waiting for his asylum application, to becoming a mental health nurse and then qualifying for # Tokyo2020.
Meet British weightlifting record holder and refugee athlete Cyrille.
🏋️♂️ # RefugeeOlympicTeam # StrongerTogether @ refugees |
- Refugee Olympic Team (@RefugeesOlympic) July 5, 2021
Karate fighter Hamoon Derafshipour and judo fighter Javad Mahjoub, who now live in Canada;
canoeist Saeid Fazloula, who now lives in Germany, and taekwondo players Dina Pouryounes Langeroudi, who now lives in the Netherlands, and Kimia Alizadeh, who now lives in Germany, are part of the refugee team in Tokyo.
"After her bronze victory in Rio 2016, Kimia Alizadeh decided to flee her country with the dream of becoming" a free woman, "read a tweet.
Following her bronze win at Rio 2016, Kimia Alizadeh decided to flee her country with the dream of becoming "a free woman".
Now as a refugee, she hopes to defend her place in the podium at # Tokyo2020.
🥋 # RefugeeOlympicTeam #StrongerTogether #Hope # OlympicRefuge @ refugees pic.twitter.com/ycj3930rgz
- Refugee Olympic Team (@RefugeesOlympic) July 12, 2021
Republic of Congo
"Refugee athlete Dorian Keletela moved to Portugal after losing his parents in a conflict in the Congo," read a tweet.
Keletela currently lives in Portugal.
Refugee athlete Dorian Keletela moved to Portugal after losing both his parents to conflict in Congo.
Now he is training for his Olympic debut in Tokyo where he will compete against the fastest on the planet.
🏃🏿 # RefugeeOlympicTeam #StrongerTogether #Hope # Tokyo2020 @refugees pic.twitter.com/m66MpMLlVd
- Refugee Olympic Team (@RefugeesOlympic) July 8, 2021
Democratic Republic of Congo
Judoka Popole Misenga, who now lives in Brazil, "hopes to inspire refugees around the world to follow their dreams like him."
Judoka Popole Misenga will represent refugees at the Olympics once more and this time as a father.
He is hoping to inspire refugees around the world to follow their dreams just like him.
🥋 # RefugeeOlympicTeam #StrongerTogether #Hope # Tokyo2020 # OlympicRefuge @ refugees pic.twitter.com/A9G1F5i4w5
- Refugee Olympic Team (@RefugeesOlympic) July 4, 2021
Shooter Luna Solomon, who now lives in Switzerland, along with runner Tachlowini Gabriyesos, who now lives in Israel, are part of the Tokyo Olympic Refugee Team.
Gabriyesos was one of this year's flag bearers and according to the Olympic website, he fled insecurity in Eritrea when he was just 12 years old along with his 13-year-old friend.
After spending time in detention, he was sent to a school in Hadera where he met his athletic trainer.
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and swimmer @YusraMardini
and Eritrean refugee and marathon runner Tachlowini Gabriyesos will be the flagbearers of the #RefugeeOlympicTeam!
This team embodies courage and it's been a long road to Tokyo for all of them.
- UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) July 23, 2021
Athletes now living in Kenya Rose Nathike Likonyen and Paulo Amotun Lokoro escaped the war and reached the Kakuma refugee camp.
Both have represented refugees at various international events, according to the Olympics website.
Meet Paulo 🏃♀️
He is an IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holder, an Olympian from Rio 2016 in athletics, and he is currently training in Kenya. @ Refugees @WorldAthletics @OlympicsKe @TeglaPeace @ Tokyo2020 @Olympics #RefugeeOlympicTeam # Tokyo2020 #StrongerTogether pic .twitter.com / 568mXvjpUo
- Refugee Olympic Team (@RefugeesOlympic) April 12, 2021
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020