The International Olympic Committee announced that the Olympic refugee team will start arriving in Tokyo later on Sunday, putting an end to speculation about their participation after one team official tested positive for COVID-19 in a training camp in Qatar. The 26 refugee athletes who make up the team were in a training camp in Qatar and had to postpone their trip to Tokyo earlier this week due to the positive case.
“26 athletes, 16 coaches and 10 officials will be travelling to Japan in the next three days,” the IOC said.
“First group is due to arrive at Narita airport tonight after their departure for the Tokyo 2020 Games was delayed.”
The team, which will participate under the Olympic flag and includes athletes from Syria, South Sudan, Eritrea, Afghanistan, and Iran, is nearly three times the size of the initial team at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The athletes were chosen from a pool of 56 athletes and will compete in 12 sports. They will march into the stadium during the opening ceremony in second place behind ancient Games founders Greece.
At the Rio Olympics, the IOC launched its first refugee squad to raise awareness about the issue as hundreds of thousands of refugees fled conflict and poverty in the Middle East and elsewhere.