The IOC Refugee Olympic Team at the Tokyo 2020 Games
There was devastation for IOC Refugee Olympic Team runner James Nyang Chiengjiek , who finished last in his men's 800m heat after an early fall.
Just after the start of the race, the South Sudanese refugee accidentally clipped another athlete's foot and tumbled to the ground. But Chiengjiek showed the spirit of a champion to get back up and finish the race.
Acting as a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide and bringing global attention to the refugee crisis, the athletes took part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016, marching and competing under the Olympic flag.
The Refugee Olympic Team (EOR) is participating at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 with 29 athletes, from 11 countries, competing in 12 sports.
Swimming had always been a passion for the family as father Ezzat is a swimming instructor dedicating his life to water. He taught his three-year-old daughter to swim.
Yusra Mardini escaped from a civil war in home of Syria in August 2015.
That boat ride was supposed to last 45 minutes. It was just a 10km ride. The boat, meant for six to seven people, was already broken when 20 people boarded.
Twenty minutes in, Mardini found herself, her sister, a friend of her father’s and two others in the water, pushing the broken boat ashore after more than three hours.
Sport was our way out. It was kind of what gave us hope to build our new lives.”
"We don't share a nation or a language. Each of us has a different story. But there is something we all have in common: We chose to keep our dreams alive."
The Refugee Olympic athletes were some of the stars of these Olympic Games. They were stars in a way that they demonstrated the best of human beings; they demonstrated determination; they demonstrated what you can achieve if you want to. They also demonstrated that they are not simply refugees but that they are human beings; they are athletes who are competing with the athletes of the other 206 National Olympic Committees on an equal playing field.
-Thomas Bach IOC President
“We need refugees to know they can do anything, and that they can inspire the next generation. You need to feel free and have peace in your mind... When you have discipline and respect your culture, you can achieve something from it.”