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Among the 26 refugee athletes from around the world selected by the International Olympic Committee to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, there are Arab refugees, including a swimmer who was forced to push a wooden boat that sank while fleeing his country, and others who were threatened in difficult conditions of war to leave their homes.
International Olympic Committee She said 26 participants will compete in 12 sports in the championship competition scheduled for July and have announced the names of the teams that will compete after years of training under their grant and said their participation is “a strong message of solidarity and hope, raising awareness of the plight of more than 80 million displaced people around the world.
“This is a wonderful group of people who inspire the world … Survivors of war, persecution and anxiety associated with life abroad really make them outstanding,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who is also the organization’s vice president. “Olympic Refugee”. Foundation.
“These athletes embody the hopes and aspirations of over 80 million people around the world who have been displaced by war and persecution … They serve as a reminder that everyone deserves a chance to succeed in life,” he added.
This will be the second time that the refugee team will compete in the Olympic Games after first competing in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, where 10 refugee athletes from four countries competed, and their participation “is a tribute to courage and perseverance. all refugees around the world at a time when the number of people forcibly displaced by violence and persecution has reached the highest level since the Second World War, ”says the website of the UN Refugee Agency.
… was chosen Team Tokyo is among the refugee athletes supported by the International Olympic Committee through the Refugee Athletes Olympic Scholarship Program.
Among the participants in the Syrian cycling competition, Aleppo-born Ahmed Badreddin (30 years old), living in Switzerland, finished ninth in the 2019 Asian Championships. Ahmed won many Syrian championships and the Arab road as a teenager. racing since he was the first young man to compete in championships on behalf of Syria, but with the outbreak of the war his life became more difficult and in 2014 he decided that he had no choice but to run and did arrive in Switzerland after a long journey. He is currently cycling and hopes to study sports sciences.
As for the 30-year-old Syrian boxer Ahmed Alikai, who lives in Hamburg, Germany, as a “refugee” and competes in the weight category up to 73 kg, he was included in the refugee team at the 2019 Budapest Grand Prix and participated in the championship world 2019. Championship in Tokyo, as well as in “Grand Paris”, championship “Salam” and “Grand Slam of Dusseldorf”.
The wrestling competition will feature an Iraqi refugee living in Austria, Aker Al Obaydi (22), who finished third in the 2019 European Junior Championships (ESP) after arriving in Austria from Mosul, where he grew up. up. Al-Obaidi left his country after ISIS began recruiting young people in the city, and after he arrived in Austria in 2016, he continued to train and compete with his counterparts in the international competition in Riga, in which he won the gold medal, and now he trains seven times a week at the local wrestling club, the kids are training.
Al-Obaidi told Olympics.com about his departure from Mosul: “I didn’t want to leave, but I had to … It was a very scary experience. I didn’t know where I was going or where I would be. “When he moved to Austria, he faced difficulties in adapting to a new life, but he was able to overcome them after” his talent opened the way for him “and he was able to establish many friends in the world of wrestling.
After his outstanding performance in the world of wrestling, he conceived a dream of Tokyo and painted five Olympic rings on one of the walls of his home to remind him of this goal, and indeed received an athlete grant from the International Olympic Committee, and benefited from training and funding in his desire to compete until he was already selected.
A Syrian refugee from Aleppo, 21-year-old Alaa Masso, who lives in Hannover, Germany, will take part in a swimming competition. Alaa left Syria in 2015 after his training base was damaged and he felt extreme pressure from the conflict around him. There he returned to swimming training and currently wants to return to study and catch up on his years of travel from Syria.
Alaa said in an interview that when he was in Syria, swimming was his refuge to avoid the conflict around him: “I was able to separate from a lot of negativity and gain confidence in my personal life through training.”
As for Mona Duhok, daughter of Damascus, born in 1995, living in the Netherlands, she will take part in judo competitions. Mona fled Syria in 2018 to join her mother in the Netherlands. She started practicing judo in Damascus when she was six years old with her sister and never stopped practicing it. She now competes in the under 63 kg category in the Netherlands and was previously on the refugee team at the 2019 Budapest Grand Prix, among other championships.
And her compatriot, 23-year-old Yusra Mardini, is swimming in Tokyo after being part of the 2016 Summer Olympics team. Yusra fled from her country in 2015 to Germany, through Beirut, and then to Turkey, to the island of Lesvos in Greece, and during the last trip the boat that was on her broke down and he brought them to the island, so the two sisters and the third woman had to swim to push the boat for three hours and bring it ashore.
“All the time you can hear all our prayers with only one voice,” Mardini said in a previous interview. He continued on his way to his final destination, Germany, on foot and by bus. “Sport was our way out of Syria,” says Mardini. “He gave us hope to build our new life.”
As for 34-year-old Syrian boxer Wissam Salaman, who represented his country in the 2012 Olympics, he made the difficult decision to flee his country to Germany in order to keep his family safe and be able to pursue his sports career. In 2015, he decided to run, and there he continued training and won a bronze medal at the World Championships in Cologne in 2021. The Olympics.com report says Salamana “possesses a positive outlook and deep spiritual strength,” the motivation letter says. address to athletes: “Continue.” Training. Do not give up. The Olympic dream is coming. “
In karate competitions, 36-year-old Damascus resident Wael Schweib, who, prior to leaving in 2015, practiced his sports in parallel with work in a textile factory in Syria, due to religious conflicts in his city and his refusal to join the ranks of the militants. forces of the regime and the struggle against their compatriots. He arrived in Turkey in a rubber boat and then traveled to Greece on a bicycle that took him to the Serbian border until he finally reached his final destination, Germany.
Damascene Sanda Al-Das, 31, who will compete in judo competition, she and her family lost their home and decided to leave Syria for the Netherlands, then her husband followed her and she gave birth to two children there. It has not always been easy for her to find the balance between motherhood and education, but she feels “happy and fortunate to be able to live in a safe environment with her family and to receive such training.” Starting a new life was not easy either, but “the exercise and support helped her start a new life and regain her confidence.”
ووضع Aram Mahmoud (24 years old), participating in badminton competitions, has a motto for himself: “I can. I believe in myself”:
Meet Aram 🏸
He is an IOC Fellow for Refugee Athletes, plays badminton and is currently training in the Netherlands.@ Refugees @bwfmedia @nocnsf @ Tokyo2020 #RefugeeOlympicTeam # Tokyo2020 #StrongerTogether #Hope #OlympicRefuge pic.twitter.com/MK65uyiETR
– Refugee Olympic Team (@RefugeesOlympic) January 19, 2021
In 2014, Aram was a two-time Syrian badminton singles champion, but the following year, as the civil war dragged on, unable to attend school or train, he left home to join his brother in the Netherlands. He is now pursuing his athletic goals and recently reached the quarterfinals of the 2019 tournament in Portugal and believes he is lucky to have found his current club to help him stand out and calm down.
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