(ATR) A Paralympic swimmer from the 2012 Games in London will lead the refugee team to be selected for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Ileana Rodriguez, a refugee from Cuba who is now a US citizen, has been named as Chef de Mission for the six-member team for Tokyo.
“As a former refugee who was lucky enough to compete in the Paralympics, I appreciate the value of having a Refugee Paralympic Team - it represents sports beyond nationalities and our athletes who will compete in Tokyo will be a symbol of hope for other refugees around the world,,” she says in a statement.
Rodriguez is an architect in Texas where her practice specializes in accessible buildings.
The International Paralympic Committee says up to six athletes will compete as the refugee team in Tokyo next August.
“To be considered for the team, athletes must have confirmed refugee status in accordance with international, national and regional law. Athletes will be subject for selection by the IPC and/or their international federation. This is primarily based on performance and them meeting the eligibility criteria. No athletes have currently been selected for the RPT for Tokyo 2020,” says the release from the IPC announcing the team.
As with the IOC and its refugee team, the IPC is working with the UN High Commission on Refugees. Commercial partners Airbnb, Asics and Panasonic are also supporting the team which will wear kit from Asics.
The first IPC refugee team consisted of two athletes, one a swimmer the other a discus thrower, who competed in Rio 2016.
Following the Chef de Mission briefing earlier this month for the Tokyo Olympics, this week it’s the chefs from the Paralympic teams who are being served. The meeting is virtual as a result of the coronavirus countermeasures.
Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori and IPC President Andrew Parsons both spoke at the open of the meeting Oct. 28.
“We are leaving no stone unturned with our partners to protect the safety and health and well-being of all who will be attending these Games,” Parsons said.
No head count yet of the attendance for the meeting. The Tokyo Paralympics are expecting around 440 athletes from 159 nations. The Paralympics begin Aug. 24 and end Sept. 5.
Written by Ed Hula.
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