Paris 2024 will be the third time the IPC has been responsible for the Refugee Paralympic Team. @Lucas Freitas/IPC

At the 2023 World Refugee Forum in Geneva, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced its plans to support a Refugee Paralympic Team (RPT) at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

This decision by the IPC has received significant support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the French Ministry of Sports, and Airbnb as a private partner. The IPC will provide a pathway for Para athletes with refugee status to compete at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

The IPC's support is comprehensive, reaching an estimated 114 million refugees - more than twice the total population of the UK or nearly five times the population of Australia. These refugees face a ranfe of challenges, including fear of persecution, violence, conflict or other circumstances that seriously disrupt public order, such as civil and racial war.

At the World Refugee Forum, the IPC signed the Joint Commitment on Sport for Inclusion and Protection, a contribution from the sports ecosystem to improve the lives of displaced people, with the following commitment:

"The International Paralympic Committee will work with its stakeholders and partners to support Para athletes with refugee status on their journey to the Paralympic Games. The French Ministry of Sport has offered to fund the accommodation for the Refugee Paralympic Team (RPT) in a pre-Games training camp in France, and Airbnb, also an IOC sponsor, is joining as the first official partner to support the RPT on 13 December 2023."

"The International Paralympic Committee: will work with our Members and other stakeholders to promote and facilitate access to inclusive sport opportunities for refugees and displaced persons with disabilities; will guide and support the path of refugee Para Athletes to participate in the Paralympic Games; will use its global channels to provide a platform for refugee Para Athletes to share their stories with the world."

Refugee Paralympic Tean in Tokio 2020. IPC
Refugee Paralympic Tean in Tokio 2020. IPC

To ensure the best possible preparation for the RPT leading up to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, the French Ministry of Sports and the Olympic and Paralympic Games has offered to host RPT athletes in a pre-Games training camp at one of France's sports centers, as reported by the official website of the International Paralympic Committee.

The Ministry will provide support, including accommodation and access to world-class sports facilities. The camp will offer a valuable opportunity to focus on pre-Paralympic Games preparation, which will open on August 28, 2024, when athletes join as a team from around the world for the first time.

Airbnb, a Global Paralympic Partner, is the first Official Partner to confirm its support for the RPT in Paris 2024, having previously supported the RPT at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Kristina Molloy, Chief of Membership and Impact at the IPC, said, "Sport is a powerful driver of positive social change for people with disabilities worldwide, and the Paralympic Games are the pinnacle event showcasing the best of Para sports. The Refugee Paralympic Team is such an important representation of resilience, strength, and hope within our Movement, and we are delighted to support athletes' participation in a meaningful way with the necessary support."

Dominique Hyde, Director of the Division of External Relations at UNHCR, added, "Refugees with disabilities will be able to compete at the highest level alongside their peers. We welcome the decision to support a Refugee Paralympic Team to compete in Paris and thank the IPC for its continued support to people who have been forced to flee, especially this week during the 2023 World Refugee Forum."

Thomas Bach (R) and Masomah Ali Zada, together in 2023. © Getty Images
Thomas Bach (R) and Masomah Ali Zada, together in 2023. © Getty Images

Paris 2024 will be the third time the IPC is responsible for the RPT. In the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, there were two athletes on the team, which increased to six for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, competing in Para athletics, Para swimming, Para canoeing, and Para taekwondo in Tokyo 2020.

Process for Participation:

In early 2024, a team of up to 10 athletes will be named for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games based on their performance and compliance with eligibility and selection criteria. No athletes have been selected at this time.

The IPC is offering a range of support, both within and outside of competition, to selected RPT athletes to aid their focus on preparing for the Games. This includes facilitating their participation in pre-Games competition opportunities, covering entry, travel, and accommodation, as well as training athletes and coaches in their general preparations.

To be considered for the RPT, athletes must have confirmed their refugee status in accordance with relevant legal frameworks. Athletes with the potential to compete in the Games will be identified by the IPC in close collaboration with International Federations, the IPC World Para Sports, and National Paralympic Committees