IOC to adapt refugee athletes program to counter criticism

Jul 26, 2021, 2:38 PM | Updated: Jul 27, 2021, 4:02 am

TOKYO (AP) — Refugee athletes need to be given more chances to compete and earn money in international sports, the IOC said Tuesday following criticism from runners who left the Olympic program.

Several potential members of the Refugee Olympic Team forfeited their chance of competing at the Tokyo Games by leaving in recent years to stay in Europe and avoid returning to a training camp for runners in Kenya.

Claims by runners originally from South Sudan about a controlling management style and being denied chances to earn money from races and sponsors were detailed this month by Time magazine.

Asked Tuesday about those claims, an International Olympic Committee official overseeing the refugee team said “we are learning through this process.”

“We are responding to that as much as we can,” said James Macleod, the IOC’s director of team relations. “We understand that now that the athletes go into this elite athlete pathway coming to compete at the Olympic Games their expectations obviously are heightened.”

Macleod noted the IOC created the team program with the United Nations’ refugee agency in Geneva only months before 10 athletes were sent to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“Life has evolved, the athletes have evolved, their needs have evolved,” said Macleod, adding the IOC has made more money available to support athletes worldwide, including the refugees. “The other thing that we’re trying to do is increase opportunities for them to be able to access sport.”

The IOC-supported 29-member refugee team in Tokyo, competing in 12 different sports, includes four middle-distance runners based in Kenya.

On selection day last month, IOC President Thomas Bach said the team taking part in Tokyo would “send a powerful message of solidarity, resilience and hope to the world.”

Six of the 29 are holdovers from the Rio team. One new member, Kimia Alizadeh, narrowly missed out on winning another bronze medal in taekwondo on Sunday. Alizadeh had taken bronze for Iran in 2016 and then defected citing institutional sexism. She now lives in Germany.

A refugee team will be supported and sent to the 2024 Paris Games, the IOC said Tuesday.

___

More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier compete in the pairs short program at the U.S. figure skating cha...
Associated Press

World champs Knierim, Frazier dazzle in Day 1 at nationals

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — They held their on-ice embrace a little longer this time, kneeling in an end pose moments after a near-flawless short program. Overwhelming favorite and reigning world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier scored a personal-best 81.96 on Thursday for a commanding lead in the first day of the U.S. Figure […]
17 hours ago
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James smiles during the second half of an NBA basketball game aga...
Associated Press

LeBron, Giannis chosen as captains for NBA All-Star Game

LeBron James is closing in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA career scoring record. And now, he has caught Abdul-Jabbar on another page of the All-Star record book. James was announced Thursday as an NBA All-Star for the 19th time, the Los Angeles Lakers’ star tying Abdul-Jabbar for the most selections in league history. James — the […]
17 hours ago
Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy pushes a cameraman away while walking off the field after a...
Associated Press

Quinn returning to lead defense as Cowboys shuffle coaches

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — A shuffling of the coaching staff for the Dallas Cowboys won’t include defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who is returning after another year of receiving interest from teams seeking head coaches. Coach Mike McCarthy said the club’s decision not to renew the contracts of six members of his staff, including one with […]
17 hours ago
The Meyer Shank Racing team, from left, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Michael Shank, Colin Bra...
Associated Press

Meyer Shank Racing aims for 2nd consecutive Rolex 24 victory

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Michael Shank bookended last year’s sports car season by winning the most prestigious endurance race in North America and then the IMSA championship. In between, he expanded his IndyCar program and followed a scrupulous plan to build Meyer Shank Racing into an elite motorsports organization. Now he’s set to lead […]
17 hours ago
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan speaks at a news conference before an NFL football pra...
Associated Press

Final 4 NFL teams all feature offensive-minded head coaches

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Chris Foerster had spent nearly two decades as an assistant in the NFL when he first crossed paths with Kyle Shanahan long before he became one of the NFL’s most-accomplished play-callers. Shanahan was in his third year as an offensive coordinator in the NFL when Foerster joined head coach Mike […]
2 days ago
FILE - Car owner Bryan Herta in the pit area during practice for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at ...
Associated Press

Herta wants to run Wickens in next year’s Indianapolis 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Bryan Herta wants to enter Robert Wickens in the Indianapolis 500 as early as 2024 — a year longer than preferred as work continues on the hand controls needed for the paralyzed driver. Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway in his 2018 IndyCar rookie […]
2 days ago
IOC to adapt refugee athletes program to counter criticism