Refugee team of 10 go to Rio, Coe and Infantino stay out of IOC

A 10-strong refugee team is to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro later this year while prominent figures Sebastian Coe and Gianni Infantino have not yet been invited to join the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

“These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem. We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes of the world," IOC president Thomas Bach said following an IOC executive board meeting concluded in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Friday.

The board meeting also nominated eight people to join the committee but Coe, president of the athletics body IAAF, and FIFA president Infantino, were high-profile names left off the list as they battle corruption allegations in their respective sports.

Their disgraced predecessors, Lamine Diack and Joseph Blatter, were both IOC members but with swimming and gymnastics only electing new presidents after the August 5-21 Olympics, Bach had diplomatic cover for the snub.

"We still have four places free in the member-contingent for association presidents," Bach said. "Therefore we wanted to wait until we had a full picture."

However, given the relative power of athletics and football, denying their presidents their traditional membership of the IOC is a controversial move.

"The failure to nominate Seb Coe is completely unexpected because he already seemed a candidate for the IOC after organizing the 2012 Olympic Games in London so well," Clemens Prokop, head of the German Athletics Association said.

"The president of the central Olympic sport almost automatically had a place in the IOC."

South African film producer Anant Singh, Colombian banker Luis Moreno and Indian charity founder Nita Ambani were among those nominated with their places having to be confirmed by at the IOC session before the Rio Games.

Sari Essayah of Finland, Ivo Ferriani of Italy, Auvita Rapilla of the Papua New Guinea, Tricia Smith of Canada and Karl Stoss of Australia were the others.

“These eight candidates that we are proposing to the next IOC session are a strong and varied group of individuals that are experts in their respective fields and will make great contributions,” Bach said.

Should all eight be approved, it would increase the total number of IOC members to 99.

On the playing field in Rio, five refugees from South Sudan, two from Syria, two from the Democratic Republic of Congo and one from Ethiopia were selected from 43 possible candidates to make the refugee team.

They will compete in swimming, athletics and judo events at the Games.

The first-ever refugee team will enter the opening ceremony in the Maracana Stadium before hosts Brazil and under the Olympic flag. Throughout the Games, they will be treated as any other team, and subjected to doping control, but will have expenses paid by the IOC.

Swimmers Yusra Mardini and Ramis Anis, now based in Germany and Belgium, are part of the team while Yolande Bukasa Mabika and Popole Misenga are Brazil-based judo players.

Marathon runner Yonas Kinde now lives in Luxembourg while the other five athletes, who will compete in 400-metre to 1,500-metre running events, are all now based in Kenya.

Last update: Wed, 22/06/2016 - 14:50
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