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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Refugee team to compete at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

A group of 51 athletes are in contention for a spot in Japan and will be supported by the Olympic Solidarity programme

The Refugee Olympic Team competed under the Olympic flag in Rio. Reuters
The Refugee Olympic Team competed under the Olympic flag in Rio. Reuters

A team of refugees will compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, the International Olympic Committee confirmed on Tuesday.

Deputy general director Pere Miro said the IOC “has identified 51 athletes living in refugee camps or in refugee conditions”.

Among the 51 were 10 who participated at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janiero, Mr Miro said at the IOC meeting in Buenos Aires.

Yiech Pur Biel, a middle-distance runner from South Sudan, is hopeful of more than simply making up the numbers after falling in the heats of the 800m in Rio.

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“We can expect much. In 2016, just we competed, now we are going not only to compete, [we want to see] if we can bring gold or reach a final.” he said.

“Competing with top athletes is a big challenge, but we hope we will do something in Tokyo 2020.”

Two swimmers who fled Syria, a pair of Congolese judokas, an Ethiopian marathon runner and four middle-distance runners from South Sudan, as well as a 400m runner, were part of the refugee team that made its debut in Rio.

The group of 51 athletes in contention for a spot in Tokyo are supported by the Olympic Solidarity programme and come from seven different sports, including karate and taekwondo.