Africa: IPC announces six athletes to compete for Refugee Paralympic team at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

International stars Chris Martin, Alphonso Davies, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Barbara Hendricks, Khaled Hosseini, Asmir Begovic champion the refugee cause and welcome “the bravest sports team in the world” in a heartwarming revealing video: https: // youtu.be / dhlCevI-vIM

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) today confirmed the six athletes who will represent the Refugee Paralympic Team (RPT) at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The athletes, one woman and five men, will compete in Para-athletics, Para-swimming , in paracanoe and in para taekwondo.

The team represents the more than 82 million people around the world who have been forced to flee war, persecution and human rights violations, 12 million of whom live with disabilities. The team’s chef de mission is Ileana Rodriguez, a refugee from Cuba who competed at the London 2012 Paralympic Games in swimming for the United States.

Andrew Parsons, IPC President, said: “I urge people around the world to support the bravest sports team in the world, the Refugee Paralympic Team. These athletes illustrate how change begins with sport: They suffered life-changing injuries, fled for their safety, and took dangerous journeys, but despite the many obstacles put in their path, they became athletes of the world. elite ready to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

“Sport is a powerful tool for including refugees with disabilities in society and the announcement of the Paralympic Refugee Team is a poignant moment for the IPC. sporting events for refugees.

The IPC is working with UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, to provide these remarkable para-athletes with opportunities to tell their stories at the Games and send a strong message of hope and inspiration to d others around the world who were forced to flee. While all refugees face significant challenges, people with disabilities are often at increased risk and face additional barriers in accessing assistance, services and opportunities.

UNHCR, IPC and RPT athletes are calling for a world in which all displaced people – with and without disabilities – can also access sport and a commitment to an inclusive and equal world for all. RPT athlete Abbas Karimi, who was a member of UNHCR’s Global Youth Advisory Board and recently appointed UNHCR’s High Level Supporter embodies this commitment as a passionate advocate for refugee access and inclusion disabled in sport – at all levels.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, welcomed the announcement.

“I am delighted to congratulate each of the six athletes named today as members of the IPC Refugee Paralympic Team. I am also extremely proud of our collaboration with the International Paralympic Committee to promote the inclusion of refugees with disabilities in sport. These athletes, as individuals and as a team, send a message of hope and inspiration to refugees around the world. They are true pioneers in promoting the inclusion of refugees and persons with disabilities, in elite sport and in life, and we hope that their example will bring us closer to an inclusive and equal world for all ”, a declared Grandi.

The RPT was announced via video by stars from music, sports, literature, stage and film who champion the refugee cause. They included goodwill ambassadors and high-level supporters of UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. The athletes of the Refugee Paralympic Team for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games are:

Ibrahim Al Hussein, Syrian refugee living in Athens, Greece, para-swimming – announced by Coldplay frontman Chris Martin.

Alia Issa, Syrian refugee living in Athens, Greece, para-athletics (club throw) – announced by British actress and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

Parfait Hakizimana *, Burundian refugee living in Mahama refugee camp, Rwanda, Para taekwondo – announced by opera singer and recipient of the French Legion of Honor and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Barbara Hendricks.

Abbas Karimi, Afghan refugee living in Fort Lauderdale, USA, Para-swimming – announced by UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Khaled Hosseini, bestselling author of The Kite Runner and Afghan refugee himself.

Anas Al Khalifa, Syrian refugee living in Halle, Germany, Paracanoë – announced by high profile footballer and UNHCR supporter Asmir Begović, who was forced to flee his home in Bosnia and Herzegovina at a young age, arriving first in Germany.

Shahrad Nasajpour, Iranian refugee living in Phoenix, USA, para-athletics (disc) – announced by Bayern Munich and Canadian footballer Alphonso Davies, himself a refugee from Liberia and recently announced as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.

The Tokyo 2020 RPT will compete under the IPC flag and will be the first team to enter the National Stadium of Japan during the opening ceremony.

The IPC was able to support the RPT at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games thanks to the generous support of business partners:

Airbnb – World Paralympic Partner. Airbnb, as part of its membership mission, has been supporting refugee initiatives since 2015, first through its Open Homes program, and now Airbnb.org and Paralympian Experiences – and is the main partner of the Paralympic team refugees.

ASICS – Official IPC Supplier. ASICS is the official sportswear kit supplier for the PTR at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Panasonic – Global Paralympic Partner. Panasonic has published a photo book titled Ayase Haruka Meets Beautiful Athletes featuring their “Beautiful Japan to 2020” campaign. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book was donated to support the RPT.

Catherine Powell, Global Head of Accommodation at Airbnb, said: “I would like to congratulate the six refugee Paralympic team members participating in Tokyo 2020 officially announced today. When I read the stories of Abbas, Shahrad, Anas, Alia, Ibrahim and Parfait, their journeys seem so different, but there is a common thread – how many times has a person helped change their lives by welcoming these athletes great in their new communities and making them feel like they belong, I encourage you to go find out more about these athletes and join Airbnb to cheer them on! “

Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto said, “The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee welcomes the participation of the Refugee Paralympic Team in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, following their debut at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. J hope that the refugee team will show the world the effort, resilience and hope of human beings through competitive sport, and that they will give their best with a wish for peace. We will continue to cooperate with the IPC and relevant local municipalities and will do our utmost to ensure that everything runs smoothly and safely for the refugee team. “

The RPT also honors the legacy of Sir Ludwig Guttmann. He was a refugee who found a new home to welcome him and rewarded that kindness by helping to create one of the greatest movements in the world, the Paralympic Movement. The RPT builds on previous refugee initiatives established by the IPC. At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, a two-person team of refugee and asylum-seeking athletes formed the independent team of Paralympic athletes.