Refugee Olympic Team: Tokyo 2020 to feature more athletes than Rio 2016

The Refugee Olympic Team at the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Games
The Refugee Olympic Team competed under the Olympic flag at the Rio 2016 Games

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics refugee team is set to be larger than the inaugural squad from the Rio Games.

Ten athletes competed in the 2016 team and are among a group of 37 refugees receiving Olympic scholarships.

They will need to "at least come close" to the international qualification criteria to compete in 2020.

"We can say with some confidence that the team will be bigger than that for Rio 2016," said International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach.

"Qualification does not mean the overall international standards. We want to identify those athletes who either fulfil these criteria or at least come as close as possible to these criteria."

The IOC selected its first team to raise awareness of the increasing number of refugees around the world and the latest announcement was made on World Refugee Day.

A 10-member team from Syria, Congo, Ethiopia and South Sudan competed in athletics, swimming and judo in 2016.

The group of scholarship-holders also includes refugees from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Eritrea, Iran and Sudan, competing in eight sports. In addition to those from 2016, they are badminton, boxing, karate, taekwondo and weightlifting.

The refugees are currently training in 11 host countries and will come together for a joint training camp in April 2020, with the final team announced in June 2020.

Tokyo preparations

The 2020 Games run from 24 July to 9 August and Bach said at the IOC news conference on Thursday that the "marketing programme of Tokyo 2020 has broken all records already."

"With the state of preparation, Tokyo 2020 has established another record. I can't remember any other host city which was so far in its preparation one year before the Games," he added.

It was also confirmed that the IOC's executive board have decided to submit Stockholm and a joint bid by Milan and the Italian resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo for the right to host the 2026 Winter Olympics.

The winner will be named in a vote at Monday's IOC session in Lausanne, Switzerland.

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