From Kyodo News
July 1st 2021
TOKYO – The International Paralympic Committee on Wednesday named six athletes originating from four different countries to the Refugee Paralympic Team at this summer’s Tokyo Games.
The one woman and five men will compete in athletics, swimming, canoe and taekwondo at the Tokyo Games, which were postponed for one year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement released by the IPC, President Andrew Parsons said the refugee athletes “exemplify how change starts with sport,” and called for people around the world to support them.
“They have suffered life-changing injuries, fled for their safety and undertaken dangerous journeys, but despite the many barriers put in their way, they have become elite athletes ready to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games,” he said.
According to the IPC, about 12 million of the over 82 million forcibly displaced people around the world have some degree of disability.
The team will be led by Chef de Mission Ileana Rodriguez, a former refugee from Cuba who represented the United States in swimming at the 2012 London Paralympics. It will be the first delegation to march at the National Stadium during the opening ceremony on Aug. 24.
“This past year has been especially challenging for refugee athletes, but they are no stranger to toughness in their lives,” Rodriguez said in the statement. “They will proudly represent the 12 million refugees around the world who have a disability and show that everyone has potential.”
The International Olympic Committee has named 29 athletes, originating from 11 countries, to Tokyo’s Refugee Olympic Team, also nearly three times larger than Rio de Janeiro’s squad.
The Tokyo Paralympics, which close on Sept. 5, will feature about 4,400 athletes from around the world.