IOC: We Want Refugee Athletes at 2016 Olympics

It's the first time refugees will be allowed to compete without a home country
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2015 12:22 PM CDT
IOC: We Want Refugee Athletes at 2016 Olympics
IOC President Thomas Bach arrives to a press conference during an IOC executive board meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Feb. 28, 2015.   (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

(Newser) – Refugees have never been allowed to go for Olympic gold because they can't represent the countries they've fled from. Now they're going to get their shot, thanks to a decision by the International Olympic Committee to allow "highly qualified" refugees to take part in the Summer Olympics next year in Rio, the AP reports. "This will be a symbol of hope for all the refugees in our world, and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis," Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC, told the UN General Assembly Monday, imploring the 193 member-states to help his organization find the best of the best from this marginalized group.

Bach noted that $2 million has been allocated for this initiative, which he hopes will "bring hope through sport to refugees." The General Assembly also adopted a resolution that calls for a truce between all member states, from seven days before the Games start on Aug. 5, 2016, to seven days after the Paralympics end on Sept. 18, Reuters notes. (Hopefully Rio will have cleaned up its water act by next August.)

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