Refugees living in Kenya will have a chance to compete at the Olympics under the International Olympic Committee (IOC) flag if they attain the recommended qualifying times.
Kenya, which is home to more than 600 refugees, has selected about 16 of the best for special training camp in Nairobi (Ngong) and the best three will be allowed to travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the summer games in August.
IOC in October last year decided to welcome refugee athletes to the 2016 Olympics where they will live in the Olympic Village alongside the other 11,000 athletes from 206 national Olympic committees. They will compete under the IOC flag.
IOC officials led by deputy director general Pere Miro toured Kenya’s Kakuma camp in Turkana and assured the athletes they will get their chance to compete in the games.
“The slots are very competitive. Like all the other youths, they will have their chance and the best will be in Rio. We must try to have a level ground for all youths to compete for the Olympics irrespective of their status. We will pick equal number of men and women athletes to participate in the games,” Keino said on Tuesday in Nairobi.
The refugees have in the past not participated in the international championships after being displaced from their home countries.
Kakuma in Turkana is one of world’s biggest refugee shelters and is home to 185,650 refugees from 20 different Africa nations most from South Sudan and Somalia.
The United Nations said there are about 20 million refugees in the world, and the number is growing.
IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement back in October that the IOC has created a US$2 million fund “to bring hope through sport to refugees”.