Everything you need to know about the refugee Olympics team

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has announced that a team made entirely of refugees will be competing in this year’s Olympic Games.

Why is there going to be a refugee team?

In his official statement, Bach said, “We have all been touched by the magnitude of this refugee crisis. By welcoming ROA to the Olympic Games in Rio, we want to send a message of hope to the refugees of the world.”       


How will the athletes be selected?

Officially titled the Team of Refugee Olympic Athletes (ROA), the athletes competing in Rio de Janeiro are to be carefully selected from a pool of 43 hopefuls. These athletes have already been provided with training funds and facilities by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

When considering which athletes to select, the IOC considered three things: sporting prowess, whether they held an official United Nations verified refugee status, and the nature of the individual’s personal situation and background.


Will the refugee team be treated the same as the other competitors?

ROA will be treated to the same privileges as any other country competing in the games. The executive board of the IOC has declared that they will be housed with the other teams and march in the opening ceremony. They will also have their own uniforms, coaches and chefs.

The ROA will enter the Olympic opening ceremony as the penultimate team, ahead of the Game’s hosts, Brazil.


Meet two hopefuls:



What happens if a ROA athlete wins?

If a team member wins their event, they will receive their medal while the Olympic Anthem plays, and the Olympic flag will be raised.

Three potential competitors named by the IOC in December include a Syrian swimmer now based in Germany, an Iranian taekwondo fighter training in Belgium and a judoka from the Democratic Republic of Congo living in Brazil.


The ROA’s final line-up will be announced in June, and the Games are scheduled to run from August 5–21.