The Olympic Refuge Foundation was launched by IOC President Thomas Bach and UNHCR Filippo Grandi ©IOC

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have officially launched the Olympic Refuge Foundation, part of its ongoing campaign to help refugees. 

Created in partnership with the United Nations Refugee Agency, the project follows on from the development of the Refugee Olympic team, which competed at Rio 2016.

IOC President Thomas Bach claimed the Olympic Refuge Foundation consolidated the IOC’s commitment to supporting refugees after Rio 2016, where 10 competitors took part in the Games.

"We realised that many of the team members want to help other refugees through sport and we were thinking how we could be consolidate our support," said Bach at the IOC Session here today. 

"The result was the Olympic Refuge Foundation, which we started to create.

"We spoke about creating safe places through sport and put all the ideas together to create the Foundation.

"The new project will offer safe places for refuges and migrants to contribute to an inclusive society and integrate them into the society of their new home country.

“We will build simple and functional sports playing grounds.

"It will depend on the sports we are going to offer and we will give the operation over to organisations which have great experience with this.

"There are a number of National Government Organisations working in this field and charities, so we will put these places at their disposal."

The Olympic Refuge Foundation have already have had pledges of financial support from the Qatar Olympic Committee and the Government of Liechtenstein.

The Foundation is set to fund projects through donations from Olympic Movement partners, governmental institutions and private donations.

Bach will serve as the chairman of the Foundation, with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi confirmed as the vice-chair.

The full board is expected to be ratified in either November or December, Bach said, with a member of the Refugee Olympic Team expected to be included.

It is expected the foundation will be recognised legally in Switzerland later this year and the project will officially begin operating at the start of next year.

It will coincide with planning beginning for a Refugee Olympic Team being established to compete at Tokyo 2020.

Planning for a Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020 to follow in the footsteps of the successful squad at Rio 2016 will begin next year ©Getty Images
Planning for a Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020 to follow in the footsteps of the successful squad at Rio 2016 will begin next year ©Getty Images

"I am grateful to the IOC and President Bach for having lead an initiative on a complex subject with a lot of vision," said Grandi.

"We worked closely to support this initiative.

"What we have learned through cooperation is that sport is important for refugees in many ways.

"It is good for their health, but it can provide safe places in difficult contexts.

"It can provide identity and it can help act as a very important tool in integration.

"I would like to promote healthy competition in places were competition is often seen in a negative context, regarding drugs and weapons.

"Projects will be focused on sport and safe places, but would link with education.

"We lose sight of the fact we are talking about people, with refugees having become a politicised situation in many places, not a humanitarian one."