As the Rio Olympics have come to a close the Paralympics are set to begin on September 7th. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has just recently announced that there will be two refugee athletes who will compete with the Independent Paralympic Athlete team.
Swimmer Ibrahim Al Hussein, who most recently carried the Olympic torch through Athens, Greece, will compete in the men’s 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle. Along with Hussein, discus thrower Shahrad Nasajpour will also compete with the IPA. Both Nasajpour and Hussein will travel to Rio along with the Chef-de-Mission, team official, and coaching staff.
At the past Rio Olympic games, both a Refugee team, and the Independent Olympic Athletes (IOA) teams competed. The Refugee team was comprised of athletes who were forced to flee their countries in response to political hardship and war. The Independent team athlete’s are comprised of athletes who choose to swim unaffiliated to their country for a number of possible reasons. For example, an athlete may choose to compete unaffiliated to their country if their country is currently suspended from the IOC.
By allowing these two Paralympian refugees to compete in Rio the IPC is giving these athletes a chance to become Olympians and give them a sense of hope, and payment for their hard work.
In Rio there were ten athletes who competed at the games, two of which who competed and represented the refugee team in swimming, Rami Anis and Yursa Mardini, both of which competed in the 100m butterfly and 100m freestyle both placing within the top 60 athletes in their events. The Independent Olympic Athlete team was comprised of 9 athletes; two IOA athletes competed in swimming as well. IOA athlete Faye Sultan who competed in the women’s 50m freestyle and placed 54th, along with fellow IOA athlete Abbas Qali who competed in the men’s 100m butterfly and placed 34th.
The Paralympics are set to begin on September 7th and will take place through the 18th of the month. Swimming events will be taking place September 8th until the 17th.