A large number of refugee athletes in Germany were able to secure a chance to compete for the postponed Tokyo Olympics medals, confirming the great care they received as athletes after their asylum, which was praised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Seven refugee athletes in Germany (five of them Syrians) secured a place on the 29-man refugee team, making this group the largest on the team.
The seven athletes who live and train in Germany are: Ala Masso, A swimmer previously interviewed by Migrant News, who was born in Syria in 2000, trains in Hanover. Add to Yosra Mardini, swimmer and UNHCR AmbassadorShe previously competed in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, was born in Syria in 1998, and trained in Hamburg.
The final list also includes Wael Shuaib, a karate player, who was born in Syria in 1988, lives and trains in the state of Hesse. Ahmed Alikaj, a judoka, born in 1991 in Syria, trains in Hamburg. Wissam Salamana, a boxer, born in Syria in 1985, trains in Saarland. Kimia Alizadeh Zenuzzi, a taekwondo athlete, was born in Iran in 1998 and trained in Aschaffenburg. Saeed Fadlallah, rower, born 1992 in Iran, trained in Karlsruhe.
It is worth noting that the total number of Syrians on the team is 9 out of the twenty-nine eligible. In a statement on the matter, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, commended the IOC’s announcement of the names of the refugee team representatives for the Tokyo Olympics. After a long period of serious and regular training, 29 refugees will travel to Japan for the Olympics next month, competing for medals in a dozen sports, which UNHCR has found “sends a strong signal of hope and solidarity, and draws attention to the fate of 80 million displaced people around the world.”
“I congratulate all the athletes who have been selected for the Tokyo 2020 refugee team,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, who is also the vice-president of the Olympic Refugee Foundation. “They are a unique group of people who inspire the world. UNHCR is very proud of their support at the Tokyo Olympics. Surviving war, persecution and flight makes them extraordinary. But they have also excelled and become outstanding athletes.”
Grandi continued: “Their abilities are shown when refugees are given the opportunity to show it in full. These athletes embody the hopes and aspirations of the more than 80 million people around the world uprooted by war and persecution from their countries. Everyone deserves a chance to be successful in life.”
This is the second time a refugee team has participated in the Olympic Games after Rio 2016. As part of its more than 25-year partnership with the International Olympic Committee, UNHCR is working with the Committee and the Refugee Olympic Foundation. Together, these partners want to use the power of sport to create a world in which everyone forced to flee can create a better future. UNHCR also demands that all refugees, including those with disabilities, have equal opportunities to exercise.