skip to content
IOC Refugee Olympic Team 2016 powered by solidarity

As part of its commitment to aid potential elite athletes affected by the worldwide refugee crisis the IOC asked National Olympic Committees (NOCs) around the world to identify any refugee athletes with the potential to qualify for the Olympic Games Rio 2016. Such candidates could then receive funding from Olympic Solidarity to assist with their preparations and qualification efforts.

Forty-three promising candidates were initially identified. Ten refugee athletes were ultimately selected to make up the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team. Acting as a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide and bringing global attention to the refugee crisis, the athletes took part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016, marching and competing under the Olympic flag. 

The Refugee Olympic athletes were some of the stars of these Olympic Games. They were stars in a way that they demonstrated the best of human beings; they demonstrated determination; they demonstrated what you can achieve if you want to. They also demonstrated that they are not simply refugees but that they are human beings; they are athletes who are competing with the athletes of the other 206 National Olympic Committees on an equal playing field. Thomas Bach IOC President

Selection of the 10 athletes was based on consultation with their host NOCs, International Federations, the UNHCR and the NOCs of their countries of origin. Nomination criteria included sporting level, official refugee status verified by the United Nations, and personal situation and background.

Olympian and former marathon world record-holder Tegla Loroupe (Kenya) was the team’s Chef de Mission, while Isabela Mazão (Brazil), who was proposed by the UNHCR, acted as the Deputy Chef de Mission.

Beyond the Olympic Games, the IOC continues to support these athletes day by day through its Olympic Solidarity Refugee Athletes Support Programme, to help them to build their future, while the UNHCR also supports them to continue to convey this positive message of solidarity and hope through sport and advocate the cause of refugees.


IOC Refugee Olympic Team

At the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in October 2015, confronted with the global refugee crisis that has seen millions of people in the world displaced, IOC President Thomas Bach announced the creation of the Refugee Olympic Team.

Learn more

IOC REFUGEE OLYMPIC TEAM TOKYO 2020

During its meeting in Buenos Aires in October 2018, the IOC Session decided to create the IOC Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020. This decision builds on the legacy of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team in Rio.

Learn more

OLYMPIC REFUGE FOUNDATION

In September 2017, during its Session in Lima, the IOC launched the Olympic Refuge Foundation to support the protection, development and empowerment of children and young people in vulnerable situations through sport.

Learn more
back to top Fr