Refugee team of 29 picked for Tokyo Olympics

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The refugee team for the Tokyo Olympics has 29 athletes competing in 12 sports, including a medalist at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games who left Iran citing institutional sexism.

The team selected by the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday was drawn from 55 athletes who fled their home countries and got scholarships to train for the games in a new home country.

Kimia Alizadeh is among them five years after she became the first Iranian women to win an Olympic medal. She took bronze in taekwondo at age 18.

Alizadeh is based in Germany after she defected from Iran and criticized wearing the mandatory hijab headscarf.

“I have a great feeling to have made a decision for my life that would definitely change my future,” she told reporters in Germany in January last year.

The 29 athletes — a rise from 10 in the inaugural refugee team at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics — are also originally from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Congo, Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela.

They will compete in swimming, athletics, badminton, boxing, canoeing, cycling, judo, karate, shooting, taekwondo, weightlifting, and wrestling.

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