Asian Herald’s Special Sports Correspondent writes about ‘EOR’, a great initiative by The International Olympic Committee
Five years ago, the refugee Olympic team was created by the International Olympic Committee in partnership with UNHCR to raise awareness of the plight of refugees and to offer hope to fellow refugees and the world. It also helped the UN Refugee Agency in the 2016 Olympics, to allow athletes to keep competing even if they have been forced to leave their home countries. The refugee Olympic team’s official acronym is EOR, based on a French name: equipe olympique des refugies. It had ten athletes at the Rio de Janeiro games. Another ten joined from Syria, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia. The athletes are selected from the refugees supported by the IOC (INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE) through Olympic scholarship for the Refugee Athlete Program.
Through “Olympic Scholarship for Refugee Athletes” a dedicated program created after Rio, Olympic Solidarity supported 56 promising refugee athletes from13 countries. The countries include Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Eritrea, Venezuela, Iran, Afghanistan, and Cameroon. Many of these countries are in the midst of conflict or civil wars, making it too dangerous for the Olympians to return home.
The program offers National Olympic committees (NOCs) the opportunity to identify refugee athletes living in their countries and support them throughout their training, preparation, and participation in high-level competition.
The scholarships provided 56 athletes with financial support that enabled them to train for the games while continuing their sporting careers and building their futures.
The 29 athletes who make the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Tokyo 2020 were selected among these scholarship holders based on several criteria, including first and foremost, each athlete’s sporting performance and their refugee status as confirmed by the UN Refugee Agency. This team of 29 athletes represents 12 sports including athletics, badminton, boxing, canoeing, cycling, judo, karate, and taekwondo, the sport of shooting, swimming, weightlifting, and wrestling.
The IOC will continue to support the refugee athletes even after the Olympics Games Tokyo 2020.
Abilash Rathnakaran, Director of Sports, Vels University, has had a proficient presence in the sports field, spearheading several events with the state and central governments. In this process, he has associated himself with different sports federations of India, which includes the Senior National Volleyball Championship in 2016, Asian Bodybuilding Championship in 2017, Mr India Senior Bodybuilding & Best Physique in 2018 and Paralympic Nationals Games in 2019. His life, driven by his untrammelled passion for sports, is coupled with the goal of leading the way for aspiring sportspersons and enthusiasts. He would be enriching the viewers of the Asian Herald with his insights, as our Special Sports Correspondent.