Tuesday, June 8, 2021, marked a special day for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. According to the International Olympic Committee‘s (IOC) announcement, 29 athletes from 11 different countries were named to the Refugee Olympic Team, also known as the EOR (Equipe Olympique des Réfugiés). Twenty-five of them received Refugee Athlete Scholarships from the IOC. The remaining four are from the International Judo Federation Refugee Project (IJFRP) to fill out the mixed judo team.
The athletes that make up the EOR represent 13 different National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and compete across 12 sports. You can watch the full announcement ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Refugee Olympic Team below, courtesy of the IOC Media YouTube channel:
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Refugee Olympic Team
The athletes and their respective sports on the Refugee Olympic team are:
- Abdullah Sediqi — Taekwando
- Ahmed Alikaj — Judo
- Ahmad Badreddin Wais — Cycling
- Aker Al Obaidi — Wrestling
- Alaa Maso — Swimming
- Anjelina Nadai Lohalith — Athletics
- Aram Mahmoud — Badminton
- Cyrille Fagat Tchatchet II — Weightlifting
- Dina Pouryounes Langeroudi — Taekwondo
- Dorian Keletela — Athletics
- Eldric Samual Sella Rodriguez — Boxing
- Hamoon Derafshipour — Karate
- Jamal Abedelmaji Eisa Mohammed — Athletics
- James Chiengjiek Nyang — Athletics
- Javad Mahjoub — Judo
- Kimia Alizadeh Zenozi — Taekwondo
- Luna Solomon — Shooting
- Masomah Ali Zada — Cycling
- Muna Dahouk — Judo
- Nigara Shaheen — Judo
- Paulo Amotun Lokoro — Athletics
- Popole Misenga — Judo
- Rose Nathike Likonyen — Athletics
- Saeid Fazloula — Canoe
- Sanda Aldass — Judo
- Tachlowini Gabriyesos — Athletics
- Wael Shueb — Karate
- Wessam Salamana — Boxing
- Yusra Mardini — Swimming
Per the IOC, the EOR will march in the second position during the Opening Ceremony bearing the Olympic flag. Greece will be in the first position as they always are to honor their role originating the Olympic Games.
Should any member of the EOR stand on the podium and win an Olympic medal, the Olympic flag will be raised. Likewise, should any of these athletes win gold, the Olympic anthem will be played. The team’s Chef de Mission (read: head coach) is Tegla Loroupe. Her Deputy Chef de Mission will be Olivier Niamkey from the IOC. She will also be assisted by Stephen Pattison from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva.
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Cyrille Fagat Tchatchet II
Tchatchet II is the lone weightlifter on the EOR. Originally from Cameroon, he fled and sought asylum in the United Kingdom at age 19 after ranking fifth at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in the 85-kilogram class.
After years of struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, Tchatchet II sought help. In addition to antidepressants, his doctor suggested Tchatchet II exercise — he returned to weightlifting.
Tchatchet II continued training and eventually became a British weightlifting champion in the 94-kilogram and 96-kilogram classes to earn an IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship. He would use that scholarship to earn his spot on the EOR.
In an interview with Olympics.com, Tchatchet II shared his thoughts on being an EOR team member at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games:
“One of the dreams of any sportsperson is to be considered for the Olympics. It’s a pleasure to be among those who are considered to represent the Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo.”