The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that another 11 refugee athletes will receive scholarships to prepare, in their respective host countries, for qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
In this way, a total of 52 athletes benefiting from this financial support will try to be part of the refugee team, which in Paris 2024 will have its third participation in the Olympic Games after being present in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.
The latest scholarship recipients are the Syrians Mohamad Akkash (judo), Adnan Khakan (judo), Yahya Al Ghotany (taekwondo) and Mohammad Amin Alsalami (athletics); the Afghans Masomah Ali Zada (cycling), Abdullah Sediqi (taekwondo) and Nigara Shaheen (judo); the Ethiopian Eyeru Gebru (cycling), the Moroccan Fouad Idbafdil (athletics), the Iranian Iman Mahdavi (wrestling) and the Cameroonian Cindy Namba (Boxing).
“This means a lot to me. As an athlete, my dream was to win a medal at the Olympic Games and that was very difficult to achieve alone, without help in a foreign country,” said Mohammad Amin Alsalami, who lives in Germany after fleeing Syria.
“I had to work 200 hours a month to earn the money to go to training camps and competitions. I had to pay for everything myself, but now training has become easier because I know that the IOC is there to support me,” said Alsalami, who dreams of being part of the long jump event in the French capital.
The Olympic Team of Refugee Athletes participated for the first time with 10 athletes in the Rio 2016 Games, while in Tokyo 2020 the number rose to 29. Now, 52 will seek to get the ticket to Paris 2024.
Of the first 44 athletes awarded scholarships to face the preparation for the next Olympic Games, three have already received citizenship from their host countries, so they will compete for their new National Olympic Committee (CON).
Last October, the IOC Refugee Olympic Foundation and Team were awarded the Princess of Asturias Award for Sports. Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, was accompanied at the gala by Venezuelan boxer Eldric Sella Rodríguez and Afghan cyclist Masomah Ali Zada, who were present at the last Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“This motivates us to continue preparing and doing our best for the Olympic cycle that ends in 2024, as well as to continue impacting more people. The Olympic Refugee Team gave me the opportunity to compete in Tokyo and now it allows me to try to earn a place to do so in Paris,” said the Venezuelan boxer.
Masomah Ali Zada, for his part, escaped more than once from the Taliban and now lives in France. The cyclist, harassed in her country simply for riding a bicycle, was in a historic event named a member of the IOC Athletes Commission.