Ahead of tomorrow’s World Refugee Day, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) figures state that the number of forcibly displaced people continues to grow. The IOC, with its Olympic Refuge Foundation, is strongly committed to helping refugees and displaced populations through sport.

The International Olympic Committee, 19 Jun 2019 – When the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team competed in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, it signalled the beginning of a remarkable and crucial set of initiatives which have thrown a lifeline to tens of thousands of refugees forced to flee their homes.

The 10 athletes competing under the Olympic flag at Rio 2016 captured the world’s attention through their bravery, courage and athletic skill, and another Refugee Olympic Team is set to participate in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Just as importantly, the Refugee Olympic Team Rio 2016 provided the impetus behind the creation of the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF)– founded by the IOC in 2017. The Foundation uses sports-based projects to support refugee populations across the world with a focus on protecting, developing and empowering children and youth in vulnerable situations.

“Joining the first Refugee Olympic Team at Rio 2016 changed my life, and I am proud to see that it left a concrete legacy,” said Yiech Pur Biel, a member of the Refugee Olympic Team Rio 2016 and now an ORF Board member. “Through the Olympic Refuge Foundation, our aim is not creating champions, but working every day to improve the lives of young refugees through sport, creating safe environments where they can start building their future”.

The projects supported by the Olympic Refuge Foundation

Today the ORF manages programmes involving a multitude of girls and boys across four continents, in collaboration with UNHCR and local partners.