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The team of 10 refugee athletes participated alongside 11,000 athletes of the world from all 206 National Olympic Committees at the Olympic Games Rio 2016. The participation of the Refugee Olympic Team sent a strong message of solidarity and hope to the millions of refugees around the world.
In a speech today at the United Nations General Assembly High Level meeting on Refugees and Migrants, IOC President Thomas Bach gave further details of how the IOC will continue to support the team members of the Refugee Olympic Team and develop more wide-reaching plans to use sport to help refugees and migrants.
Remembering the Olympic Games Rio 2016, President Bach reminded Member States that the Refugee Olympic Team “showed us all that despite the unimaginable tragedies and suffering that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talent, skills and most importantly, through the strength of the human spirit. Their participation in the Olympic Games is proof that refugees are an enrichment to society just as they are an enrichment to our Olympic family.”
The IOC President also announced new plans to create ‘safe places’ for children to play sport throughout the world. “In cities where there is a displaced migrant population, in our refugee camps or wherever in the world it is needed – sport can become the glue which will bind communities together,” he told them. “It can break down cultural and gender barriers in a safe environment promoting social cohesion peace and equality. [Safe places] can not only provide a platform for all the benefits that sport can bring, but also create better opportunities for other civil society actors to do their job, whether it be to provide education or health services. It places sport at the very heart of public policy. In this way sport can play its part in making the world a better place,” he told them.
Read the full speech here.