IOC announces refugee team of 29 for Tokyo Games

Berlin, June 8, (dpa/GNA) - The refugee team for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics will consist of 29 athletes, with six of them already part of the first such team at Rio 2016.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Tuesday the composition of the team has been approved by the executive board, and the athletes were unveiled in virtual ceremony.

The IOC said the athletes from 13 host national Olympic Committees will compete in 12 sports at the July 23-August 8 Games. They will compete under the Olympic flag and march second behind Greece at the opening ceremony.

"They will send a powerful message of solidarity and hope to the world this summer, bringing further awareness to the plight of over 80 million displaced people worldwide," the IOC said.

The athletes were chosen through various criteria led by their sporting performance and their refugee status as confirmed by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the IOC said.

Former marathon world record holder Tegla Loroupe will be the team's chef de mission as in Rio, and the team will also have 20 coaches and officials.

Six of the 10 refugee team members from 2016 are part of it again, swimmer Yusra Mardini, judoka Popole Misenga and runners Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, James Nyang Chiengjiek, Paulo Amotun Lokoro and Rose Nathike Likonyen.

Ten of the athletes are refugees from Syria, and others are originally from countries including South Sudan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The IOC said the team would gather on July 12 in Doha and fly to Japan two days later where it will be hosted by Wandeda University for more training before moving into the athletes' village.

The IOC also said it would continue to fund the athletes after the Games.