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September Thursday

Olympic Games send a message of solidarity and hope



HAVANA, Cuba, Jul 29 (ACN) Although the sadness of leaving their countries for different reasons is not easy to forget, the Olympic Games in Tokyo opened its arms to 29 refugees who will compete in 12 sports, conveying a message of solidarity and hope.

At the Rio de Janeiro 2016 summer event, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) took the initiative to a concrete level, creating a real team of athletes forced to leave their countries due to war or political persecution.

This is how the IOC-sponsored refugee team came into being, a group of often anonymous heroes who hide stories of suffering, drama and a lot of pain.

Now, in Tokyo, a medalist in Rio de Janeiro, who left Iran alleging institutional sexism, is included in the group.

That team was chosen from among 55 athletes who fled their home nations and obtained Olympic solidarity scholarships to train in a new host country.

According to the Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo, they are from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Congo, Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Venezuela.

The list includes Kimia Alizadeh, a 2016 bronze medalist in taekwondo as an Iranian before fleeing to Germany because of sexism and the obligation to cover her face.

The 29 refugee athletes are being tutored by delegates from the IOC and the UN refugee agency.

In Tokyo, they will compete under the EOR (French acronym), which stands for Refugee Olympic Team, the Olympic flag will be raised and the Olympic anthem will be played when they step onto the awards podium.

On their presence at the summer event, IOC President Thomas Bach said: "You fled your homes because of violence, hunger or simply because you were different. We offer you a peaceful home. Welcome to our Olympic community.

For these athletes, therefore, their participation in this competition can be considered a resounding success, which is why, whatever happens in Tokyo, they are already champions.

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