UNHCR – High Commissioner Grandi meets with the Refugee Olympic Team in Tokyo

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23 July 2021 | English

Members of the Refugee Olympic Team meet United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at the Olympic Village in Tokyo. © Stephen Pattison

To celebrate the Olympic participation of the 29 refugee athletes participating in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi today sent a personal message of hope and support to the IOC Refugee Olympic Team.

In his message, which he posted on social media at the start of the opening ceremony, Grandi spoke of the personal determination and distinctive perseverance of refugee athletes in an unprecedented year, and wished them every success.

Grandi is in Tokyo this week to meet and express support for members of the International Olympic Committee’s refugee Olympic team. “It was a great pleasure and honor to meet the 29 athletes who make up the IOC Refugee Olympic Team this week and to convey some encouragement to them on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,” he said.

“These inspiring young people have faced enormous challenges, forced displacement and severe setbacks to embody the hope and aspirations of over 82 million refugees and forcibly displaced people around the world on the Olympic stage. I will cheer them on as they compete in their sports and hope they can reach the podium.”

The IOC Tokyo 2020 Refugee Olympic Team includes refugee athletes competing in 12 Olympic sports. Together, they will send a powerful message of solidarity and hope to the world and will call attention to the plight of those who have been abandoned by war and persecution.

It is noteworthy that this is the second time that a refugee team has participated in an Olympic Games, after the first appearance in the Olympic Games that were held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

As part of its more than 25-year partnership with the International Olympic Committee, UNHCR is working with the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Refugee Foundation to harness the power of sport to help create a world in which everyone forced to flee can build a better future.

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