The International Paralympic Committee have confirmed that they will create a refugee team that will include more athletes in Tokyo compared to Rio in 2016. The team will be known as the Refugee Paralympic Team. The International Paralympic Committee will be sending up to six athletes to Tokyo when the Paralympic Games start. This is an increase of 4 members as 2 members last competed in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The International Paralympic Committee’s aim in sending a refugee team to the Paralympics in Tokyo is to “create awareness of the plight faced by refugee athletes and send a message of hope to the almost 80 million forcibly displaced worldwide”. The International Paralympic Committee also has a desire to include refugees with disabilities in society by encouraging them to participate in Paralympic sports. This is important to them as people with disabilities are at risk of accessing things that many people can take for granted such as access to work opportunities and support.
To achieve their aims, the International Paralympic Committee will work together with the United Nations Refugee Agency and other commercial partners. Some partners that will help out the team include: Airbnb, ASICS and Panasonic. The International Paralympic Committee will work closely with the United Nations Refugee Agency in order to give a message of support to all refugees and others forced from their homelands due to conflict and violence.
The leader and Chef de Mission of the Refugee Paralympic Team will be Ileana Rodriguez. Rodriguez was born in Cuba. She and her family left for the United States when she was a teenager due to a malformation of her spine which left her paralysed. She is now a citizen of the United States. She was formerly a refugee and a Paralympian in the London 2012 Paralympic Games. She will assist the International Paralympic Committee to select the members of the Refugee Paralympic Team when the Tokyo Paralympic Games commence. To be considered for membership of the team, potential athletes must be identified as an official refugee according to a variety of laws. They also must have excellent levels of performance as well as being eligible to become a member of the Refugee Paralympic Team.
No athletes have been picked so far for the Refugee Paralympic Team to take part in the Tokyo Paralympics.