LAUSANNE: A team for refugee athletes is being created by the International Olympic Committee to compete at the summer Games in Rio de Janeiro in August writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

IOC president Thomas Bach confirmed the initiative in Lausanne after this week’s meeting of the executive board. The IOC will identify displaced athletes and fund travel, accommodation and technical staff. They will stay in the Olympic Village just like all the other competitors.

Thomas Bach . . . sport's response to a crisis

Bach explained: “Today I am happy to announce the creation of a team of Refugee Olympic Athletes – ROA. This team will be treated during the Games like all te other teams of from the national Olympic committees.

“This will enjoy all the privileges like the other teams and thus, by welcoming the team of Refugee Olympic Athletes to the Olympic Games we want to send a message of hope for all refugees of the world.

“These refugee athletes have no national team to belong to, no flag to march behind and no national anthem to be played.

Flag and anthem

“Therefore we will welcome them to the Games with the Olympic flag and Olympic anthem and they will have a home together with the other 11,000 athletes from 206 NOCs in the Olympic Village.”

Bach said IOC members had all been affected by the “magnitude of the current worldwide refugee crisis.”

Hence IOC officials had already identified 43 refugee athletes who could have qualified for Games.

Bach added: “The IOC will appoint all the required technical officials – a chef de mission, coaches and technical officials – as for all the other teams. The IOC will also provide them with their team uniform.

“The team will march at the Opening Ceremony led by the Olympic flag and will march as the last team just before the host team of Brazil.”