Media – Refugee Olympic Team at Rio 2016

Since the modern Olympics began in 1896, over 200 national teams have vied for glory at the Summer and Winter Games. Now, for the first time, a team of refugees will compete as well.

At the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janiero, 10 refugee athletes from four countries will compete together as the Refugee Olympic Team. Among them are two swimmers, two judokas, a marathoner and five medium-distance runners.

Their athletic prowess and resilience is a tribute to the courage and perseverance of all refugees – at a time when the number of people displaced by violence and persecution is at the highest level since the Second World War.

"These talented refugee athletes have overcome great adversity to become an inspiration to all those uprooted from their homes by insecurity, war and persecution. With more than 65 million people now displaced globally, they have a powerful story to tell the world – one of courage, perseverance and the resilience of the human spirit."

–UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi

Background information


Media contacts

UNHCR spokespeople

  • Nora Sturm (Geneva), +41 79 200 7618
  • Luiz Godinho (Rio), +55 61 98187 0978
  • Miguel Pachioni (Rio), +55 61 9 8117 5641
  • Claude Marshall (Rio), +55 (61) 98188-1586
  • For additional spokespeople, visit our media centre

Requests for interviews with the Refugee Olympic Team should be directed to:

  • Sophie Edington, Press attaché / business manager / spokesperson for the team, [email protected]

Photos and Video

Photos and video of the Refugee Olympic Team, and other refugee athletes, are available free of charge from Refugees Media (one-time registration required).

UNHCR content team

  • Jonathan Clayton (Rio), +55 21 98334 3985
Germany. Syrian Refugee Eyes Rio Olympics

Social media

Join the #TeamRefugees fan club:

For IOC-managed accounts, visit:

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