This World Refugee Day, we honour the 68.5 million refugees and displaced people everywhere. That’s one in every 110 people worldwide, forced to leave their homes because of war, famine and other man-made and natural disasters.
Back in 2015, the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) was formed. Ten athletes were chosen to represent people who are too often forgotten. It was a historic moment in Brazil when the ROT participated for the first time ever in the Olympic Games at Rio 2016.
The IOC continues to stand with refugees. Its various programmes include an athlete support initiative, which helps refugee athletes prepare for and participate in international competitions, and collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – a relationship that dates back to 1994 – to create safe and accessible sports facilities for refugees and displaced people.
In September 2017, the IOC launched the Olympic Refuge Foundation to support more broadly the protection and empowerment of vulnerable displaced people through sport through the creation of safe spaces; again, partnering with UNHCR and local authorities on the ground.
During the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, the IOC promoted the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect through the “Become the Light” campaign, which aimed to bring sustainable, solar-powered light solutions to refugee camps. The Mahama Refugee Camp in Rwanda will be the first to benefit from this effort in the coming months.
On this day and every day, the IOC is proud to support refugees and commemorate their strength, courage, perseverance and dignity.