(Reuters) - Top refugee athletes with no home country to represent will be allowed to compete at the 2016 Rio Games, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said on Monday at the United Nations General Assembly.
A resolution, which was supported by 180 out of the 193 U.N. member states, calls for the Olympic Truce to be respected from seven days before the start of the Aug. 5-21 Olympic Games until seven days after the Sept. 7-18 Paralympic Games.
“The Olympic Games are the time when the values of tolerance, solidarity and peace are brought to life,” Bach said in a statement. “This is the time when the international community comes together for peaceful competition.
“In the Olympic Village, we see tolerance and solidarity in their purest form. Athletes from all 206 National Olympic Committees live together in harmony and without any kind of discrimination.”
Bach’s proclamation comes as Europe attempts to cope with a surge in refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
“At present, none of these athletes would have the chance to participate in the Olympic Games even if qualified from the sports point of view because, with their refugee status, they are left without a home country and National Olympic Committee to represent,” said Bach.
“Having no national team to belong to, having no flag to march behind, having no national anthem to be played, these refugee athletes will be welcomed to the Olympic Games with the Olympic flag and with the Olympic anthem.
“They will have a home together with all the other 11,000 athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees in the Olympic Village.”
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue