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Refugee Olympic Athletes

A select group of athletes, known as Team Refugee Olympic Athletes, have participated at the Olympic Games since the Rio Olympics in 2016. These athletes not only excel at the highest sporting level but also embody symbols of hope, resilience, and the human spirit. Their participation shines a spotlight on the global refugee crisis, emphasizing the need for solidarity and support for displaced communities worldwide.

Additionally, the athletes of the Refugee Olympic Team showcase the talents and stories of resilient individuals, fostering inclusivity, and promoting greater understanding and empathy among nations, transcending boundaries and celebrating diversity in the world of sports.

This project by the IOC is largely symbolic, aiming to send a message of hope for all refugees in the world at a time of large refugee crises around the world. There have been a refugee team at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, and again will be a refugee team at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

2024 Olympic Refugee Team

The IOC's Olympic Solidarity programme which is dedicated to refugee athletes, awarded scholarships to 62 athletes to support them in their quest to be selected for the Olympic Games in Paris. The scholarship holders represent 13 sports from 11 countries, and living in 19 host countries. From these athletes, a team will be named based on performance and meeting the eligibility and selection criteria.

In May 2024 the IOC named the Refugee Olympic Team for Paris 2024, comprising 36 athletes from 11 different countries, competing in 12 sports.

2020 Refugee Team

For the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the IOC again selected athletes to represent the Refugee Olympic Team. In addition to their their confirmed refugee status, selection in this team was based on the athletes' sporting performance, as well as getting a balanced representation across sports, regions and genders. The team for 2021 was composed of 29 athletes - 25 Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holders from 11 countries who had been living and training in 13 host countries, representing 12 sports, as well as four additional athletes from the International Judo Federation Refugee Project. The IOC code used for this team was "EOR" which represents the French Équipe olympique des réfugiés.

The 2016 Athletes

A select group of athletes, known as Team Refugee Olympic Athletes, participated at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Team Refugee marched under the Olympic flag, walking out ahead of the host nation Brazil during the opening ceremony.

The refugee team in 2016 comprised of 10 athletes from the Middle East and North Africa. They competed as the Refugee Olympic Team with the country code ROT. The team did not win any medals. If any of the athletes were win gold, the Olympic anthem was to be played as the winner took to the podium.


There are plans for a Refugee Paralympic Team (RPT) at the 2020 Tokyo Olympcs, building on the Independent Paralympic Athletes team which competed at Rio 2016 (featuring two athletes from Syria and Iran who had claimed political asylum). 

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