The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced that a small group of refugee and asylee Para athletes will compete as part of an Independent Paralympic Athletes (IPA) Team at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The team who will be named later this month will compete under the Paralympic Flag, which carries the Paralympic symbol the Agitos, and will march first at the Opening Ceremony on 7 September. For official presentations, such as medal and village welcome ceremonies, the Paralympic Anthem will be played.
The team will be accompanied in Rio de Janeiro by a Chef de Mission, coaches and support staff and the IPC will cover their travel and other associated expenses.
Before they arrive the IPA Team will undergo medical checks and receive anti-doping education. Upon arrival in Rio, they will stay in the Athletes’ Village alongside more than 4,300 athletes from around 160 countries.
Following the Games the development arm of the IPC, the Agitos Foundation, will provide long-term support.
Sir Philip Craven, IPC President, said: “As the world’s number one sporting event for driving social inclusion, the Paralympic Games have long been an important symbol for the promotion of human rights.
“Given the current crisis in which millions of people around the world have been displaced and affected by war and conflict, this is the moment to shine a light on the people with impairments affected, as well as highlight the broader situation.
“Through their performances those competing in the IPA Team will stand for courage, determination, inspiration and equality on a global stage. They will show to the world what can be achieved by the strength of the human spirit.”
Para athletes have competed as independents at the Paralympic Games before, but this is the first time those with refugee and asylee status have been given special attention.
National Paralympic Committees approached the IPC when they became aware of Para athletes who were refugees or asylees training in their countries. In order to compete in the IPA Team at Rio 2016, those nominated must have official refugee status verified by the United Nations and must also possess the relevant travel documentation.
The IPC has been assisting the individuals with this process as well as classification where required.
The IPA Team stands in solidarity with the International Olympic Committee’s Refugee Olympic Team.