The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games begin on Tuesday, 24 August and will feature about 4,400 athletes competing across 22 sports.
The Refugee Paralympic Team consists of six athletes; Burundi-born taekwondo fighter Parfait Hakizimana, Syria-born canoeist Anas Al Khalifa and swimmer Ibrahim Al Hussein, club thrower Alia Issa, Iran-born discus thrower Shahrad Nasajpour and swimmer Abbas Karimi, born in Afghanistan.
It follows the Refugee Olympic Team’s appearance in Tokyo where 29 athletes from 11 countries competed in 12 sports.
Afghanistan’s two Paralympic athletes, Taekwondo competitor Zakia Khudadadi and track athlete Hossain Rasouli, have been stopped from competing at the Games because of unrest in the country.
The refugee team believes their presence can provide hope and solidarity for those being forced to flee Afghanistan, after the Taliban seized control of the country, says chef de mission and former Paralympic swimmer Ileana Rodriguez.
“We are here representing the people of the world who are refugees, so all of us have been working very hard to send a message of hope and make sure that this team shows that.
“I am sure these athletes are going to give all of what they have during these Games to really support all the refugees out there and make them feel hopeful and the same message goes to the people of Afghanistan.”