THE HEAD of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach revealed on January 28 whilst visiting a refugee camp in Greece that a team of refugees of different nationalities would be invited to participate in the Rio Olympic Games
“The IOC has decided to invite the highest-qualified refugee athletes to the Olympic Games in Rio, we want to send a message of hope and confidence to the refugees and turn the attention of the world to the fate and problem of the 60 million refugees of the world,” he said at the Eleonas camp in Athens.
The team, which will participate in its own right, will only consist of between five and ten athletes who will be lodged at the Olympic Village with the rest of the participants.
This will not be a token gesture, as all of the athletes chosen will be expected to be of international standard and already, a Congolese, a Syrian and two Iranians have been identified as potential competitors, some of whom hope to leave Greece to train in other European countries.
As a further gesture of recognition, Mr Bach added that the Olympic torch relay, starting from the city of Olympia in April, will pass the Eleonas camp and a refugee will carry the flame.