What is the Refugee Olympic Team (EOR/ROT) and which athletes are competing for it?
The refugee team was first introduced for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and 29 displaced athletes will compete in Tokyo under the Olympic flag.
In June this year the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board announced that they would be significantly expanding the Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) for Tokyo 2020.
The IOC offers scholarships for promising refugee athletes from all around the world, with the very best able to compete for the team in the Olympic Games. The team’s official name is Equipe Olympique des Réfugiés (EOR), based on the French translation.
To help with their training and preparation ahead of this year’s event, the athletes have been hosted by a number of counties: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Portugal, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
What is the history of the Refugee Olympic Team?
In the long and illustrious history of the Olympic Games the ROT is a very new introduction. Rescue.org reported that in 2015 65 million people were displaced from the homes due to conflict and natural disaster, with over one million entering Europe specifically due to wars in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.
To help support those who had lost their home, the IOC established a $1.9 million Refugee Emergency Fund later that year to help integrate refugees into sport. As a consequence of that, it was then announced that the IOC would be inviting refugee athletes to compete under a unified banner at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
For that first Games the ROT included ten athletes from the Democratic Republican of Congo, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Syria. Due to the success of that first competition, and the message of hope and inclusion it provided for millions watching around the world, the IOC decided to continue the team for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Who will compete for the Refugee Olympic Team in 2020?
The ROT squad for the 2020 Games has grown to include 29 members, competing in 12 sports and hosted in 13 different countries. As was the case in 2016 the majority of them are drawn from the Refugee Athlete Scholarship programme, although four come from the International Judo Federation Refugee Project to compete in the mixed Judo team.
During the opening ceremony they marched under the Olympic flag immediately after Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics who traditional march in first position. At this year’s Games the 29 ROT athletes will compete in athletics, badminton, boxing, canoeing, cycling, judo, karate, taekwondo, shooting, swimming, weightlifting, and wrestling.
Here’s the full list of the 2020 Refugee Olympic Team athletes, along with their country of origin: