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UNHCR releases powerful social video in support of Refugee Olympic and Paralympic teams

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UNHCR releases powerful social video in support of Refugee Olympic and Paralympic teams

6 April 2021 Also available in:
Australia. Olympic Hopefuls - Tokyo 2020. Martial artist Asif Sultani
Asif Sultani, seen here training at a dojo in Australia, is one of 60 refugee athletes and Para athletes training in the hope of competing at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today launched a powerful social media campaign calling for the world to support the Refugee Olympic and Paralympic Teams. At the centre of the global campaign is ‘The Journey’ – a social video dramatically depicting the extraordinary stories of the refugee Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls.

Released today, 6 April, to mark the UN’s International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, ‘The Journey’ tells the dramatized story of a refugee who is forced to flee her home on foot escaping conflict and persecution. Travelling by land and sea, she eventually reaches safety, reestablishes her life and starts running towards a new goal: a medal. Created in collaboration with two IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holders, the social video highlights the power of sport to bring hope and change for all those forced to flee.

There are currently over 60 refugee athletes and Para athletes training in the hope of competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. UNHCR is working closely with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC), to support the current refugee athletes who – despite the challenges of displacement and the Covid 19 pandemic – continue to train to keep their dreams of competing in Tokyo alive.

As the world’s leading agency protecting people who’ve been forced to flee their homes, UNHCR knows that sport is more than just a leisure activity; it has the power to bring hope, heal and help refugees reclaim their futures. With over 80 million people now displaced worldwide, UNHCR is working together with governments, the sporting world, civil society and refugees everywhere to build a better world in which every person forced to flee – including those with disabilities – can access and participate in sport, at all levels.

‘The Journey’ was created for UNHCR, in partnership with the IOC and IPC, by award winning agency Don't Panic, and directed by Pantera through Anonymous Content.


Rose Nathike Lokonyen, member of the Refugee Olympic Team Rio 2016 and a High Profile Supporter for UNHCR collaborated on the video’s production: “The story of ‘The Journey’ is similar to my own and that of my fellow refugee athletes. I’m training hard in the hope to get to Tokyo. I want to help people everywhere better understand the lives of refugees and the power sport can have to change lives. I hope people will support to the Refugee Olympic and Paralympic Teams.” (Rose is a UNHCR HPS and a South Sudanese refugee living in Kenya).

UNHCR’s Director of External Relations Dominique Hyde: “We at UNHCR are so proud to support the refugee athletes training for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Against the odds, these extraordinary athletes have kept their dreams alive to represent millions of refugees around the world. Together with our partners the IOC and IPC we’re dedicated to a world in which all those who have been forced to flee – including those with disabilities – can access their right to sport and play at all levels.”

Press kit:
To watch and embed ‘The Journey’ click here
For artwork and images click here

For more Olympic images contact: [email protected]

For more information contact:
UK: Sarah Epstein [email protected]  
US: Alicia Hosking [email protected]
Japan: Deanna Bitetti [email protected]

Notes to Editors:

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We lead international action to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and people without a nationality. We deliver life-saving assistance like shelter, food and water, help safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. We also work to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality. We are in over 130 countries, using our expertise to protect and care for millions.

The International Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit, civil, non-governmental, international organisation made up of volunteers which is committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the wider sporting movement, which means that every day the equivalent of USD 3.4 million goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement. It co-ordinates the organisation of the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games. The IPC’s vision is to make for an inclusive world though Para sport.