IPC announces six athletes to compete for Refugee Paralympic Team at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

Asha Bajaj
5 min readJul 2, 2021

#UNHCR; #IPC; #RPT; #Tokyo2020ParalympicGames; #ParaAthletics

Tokyo (Japan)/Canadian-Media: The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has 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, Para canoe, and Para taekwondo, UNHCR reports said.

Abbas Karimi, an Afghan refugee swimmer who was born without arms, trains in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. © Getty Images/Michael Reaves. Image credit: UNHCR

The team represents the more than 82 million people around the world who have been forced to flee war, persecution, and human rights abuses, 12 million of whom live with a disability. The Chef de Mission for the team is Ileana Rodriguez, a refugee from Cuba who competed in the London 2012 Paralympic Games in swimming for the USA.

Andrew Parsons, IPC President, said: “I would urge people everywhere to support the world’s most courageous sports team, the Refugee Paralympic Team. These athletes exemplify how change starts with sport: they have suffered life-changing injuries, fled for their safety, and undertaken dangerous journeys, but despite the many barriers put in their way, they have become elite athletes ready to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

“Sport is a powerful tool to include refugees with disabilities in society and the announcement of the Refugee Paralympic Team is a poignant moment for the IPC — we are delivering on a commitment we made at the UNHCR Global Refugee Forum in 2019 to promote equal participation in sporting events for refugees.”

The IPC is working with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to provide opportunities for these remarkable Para athletes to tell their stories at the Games and send a strong message of hope and inspiration to others around the world who have been forced to flee. While all refugees face significant challenges, those with disabilities are frequently at heightened risk and face additional barriers to accessing assistance, services, and opportunities.

UNHCR, the IPC, and the RPT athletes are calling for a world in which all displaced people — with or without disabilities — can equally access sport and a commitment to an inclusive and equal world for all. RPT athlete Abbas Karimi, who was a…

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Asha Bajaj

I write on national and international Health, Politics, Business, Education, Environment, Biodiversity, Science, First Nations, Humanitarian, gender, women