Ten Africans have qualified to be on the Olympic Refugee Team at Tokyo 2020 — announced on Tuesday by the chief of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach.
The following names are included in the refugee athletes team that will participate in Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games — including the ten African athletes:
Swimming: Alaa Maso, Yusra Mardini (Syria)
Athletics: Dorian Keletela (Congo), Rose Nathike Lykonen, James Nyang Chiengjiek, Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, Paulo Amotun Lokoro (South Sudan), Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed (Sudan), Tachlowini Gabriyesos (Eritrea)
Badminton: Aram Mahmoud (Syria)
Boxing: Wessam Salamana (Syria), Eldric Sella Rodriguez (Venezuela)
Canoe: Saeid Fazloula (Iran)
Cycling: Masomah Ali Zada (Afghanistan), Ahmad Badreddin Wais (Syria)
Judo: Sanda Aldass, Ahmad Alikaj, Muna Dahouk (Syria), Javad Mahjoub (Iran), Popole Misenga (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Nigara Shaheen (Afghanistan)
Karate: Wael Shueb (Syria), Hamoon Derafshipour (Iran)
Shooting: Luna Solomon (Eritrea)
Taekwondo: Dina Pouryounes Langeroudi, Kimia Alizadeh (Iran), Abdullah Sediqi (Afghanistan)
Weightlifting: Cyrille Fagat Tchatchet II (Cameroon)
Wrestling: Aker Al Obaidi (Iraq)
IOC president Thomas Bach outlines the highlight of the sports initiative.
“It started in the fall of 2015 when we realised the worldwide refugee crisis. We saw these images and we said there must be athletes among these people, and which responsibility do we have, which opportunities can we create for athletes among these many displaced people around the world. Unfortunately, the reasons why we created this team still persist. We even have more forcibly displaced persons in the world right now.”
The total 29 athletes from 12 sports were chosen based on several criteria — including their personal background, refugee status and of course their performance to ensure that a balance of sports, gender and regions was upheld.
Kenya’s long-distance world record holder Tegla Chepkite Loroupe is captain of the team of outstanding competitors — selected out of 55 promising IOC scholarship-awarded athletes with refugee status in 13 countries.
She is more than capable of being the team0s leader.
“As a former athlete, I believe that I will be able to help all our athletes across the five continents of the world, to share my experience from a conflict area myself. They will represent not only themselves, not only the IOC, but also they will represent the entire refugee community in the whole world. Thanks to the UN because they gave us these athletes to work together.”
The squad, which features athletes from 13 host National Olympic Committees, includes six who competed on the first Olympic Refugee Team (around three times smaller than its current size back then) at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The team — which consists of ten men and nine women, in addition to Kenya, boasts other African nationalities such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Congo, Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan.
These world-class African competitors — along with their non-African teammates, will represent the Olympic Refugee Team in Japan this summer.
They will compete across athletics, badminton, boxing, canoeing, cycling, judo, karate, taekwondo, shooting, swimming, weightlifting and wrestling at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Paulo Amotun competes in heat 2 of the men’s 1500m race at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The athlete, who is originally from South Sudan, is one of ten members of the Refugee Olympic Team competing at these Games.
These are swimmer Yusra Mardini, judoka Popole Misenga, and track and field athletes Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, James Nyang Chiengjiek, Paulo Amotun Lokoro and Rose Nathike Lokonyen.
Alaa Maso is also set to compete in swimming, while Misenga is one of six judoka selected for the team by the IOC, joining Sanda Aldass, Ahmad Alikaj, Muna Dahouk, Javad Mahjoub and Nigara Shaheen.
Dorian Keletela, Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed and Tachlowini Gabriyesos have been chosen as the other track and field athletes.
Badminton player Aram Mahmoud, boxers Wessam Salamana and Eldric Sella Rodriguez, canoeist Saeid Fazloula and cyclists Masomah Ali Zada and Ahmad Badreddin Wais have also been picked for the team.
They have been selected alongside karateka Wael Shueb and Hamoon Derafshipour, shooter Luna Solomon, taekwondo players Dina Pouryounes Langeroudi, Kimia Alizadeh and Abdullah Sediqi, weightlifter Cyrille Fagat Tchatchet and Greco-Roman wrestler Aker Al Obaidi.