The eight athletes and one guide runner who will compete as part of the largest-ever Refugee Paralympic Team. IPC

With 50 days to go until the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced on Tuesday, 9 July, the eight athletes and one support runner who will compete as part of the largest ever Refugee Paralympic Team.  The Paralympic Opening Ceremonywill take place on the Champs-Elysees and Place de la Concorde in Paris on 28 August.

The eight athletes, representing more than 120 million displaced people worldwide, come from six countries and will compete in six sports: Para athletics, Para powerlifting, Para table tennis, Para taekwondo, Para triathlon and wheelchair fencing.

"The world has more than 120 million forcibly displaced people worldwide," said Andrew Parsons, the IPC president. "Many live in dire conditions. These athletes have persevered and shown incredible determination to get to Paris 2024 and give every refugee around the world hope."

Andrew Parsons, IPC President, said: “All Paralympians have stories of incredible resilience but the stories of these athletes and their journeys as refugees surviving war and persecution to compete at the Paralympic Games is off-the-charts awe inspiring.

“Unfortunately, the world has more than 120 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Many live in dire conditions. These athletes have persevered and shown incredible determination to get to Paris 2024 and give every refugee around the world hope. The Refugee Paralympic Team shines a spotlight on the transformational impact of sport.”

Filippo Grandi, the head of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said: “For a third consecutive Paralympics, a team of determined, inspirational refugee athletes will show the world just what they can achieve if given the chance. Refugees thrive when given the opportunity to use, develop and showcase their skills and talents, in sport and in many other walks of life.

“We at UNHCR are hugely grateful to the IPC as a key player in our growing international partnership to bring sport to refugees. Sport is vital to their mental and physical well-being, as well as their inclusion and integration with the communities that host them.”

Ibrahim Al Hussein will be competing in his third Paralympics for the refugee team, but is switching from swimming to triathlon, despite the challenge of putting together "all the necessary equipment to compete in triathlon, which can be expensive".

Al Hussein arrived in Greece from Syria 10 years ago. "Sport helped me to integrate into society," he said. At the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony, Ibrahim - who lost his leg in an explosion while trying to save a friend - was the flag bearer for the Refugee Paralympic Team.

Zakia Khudadadi, who represented Afghanistan at the much-delayed Tokyo 2021 Games shortly after being evacuated from the country following the Taliban takeover, and Hadi Hassanzada will compete in parataekwondo. She now lives in Paris, France, and won the 2023 European Taekwondo Championships in the 47kg category, dedicating her victory to the women of her homeland.

Born in Afghanistan, Hadi Hassanzada grew up in Iran. "I returned to Afghanistan thinking that the country had become peaceful. I was wrong. He fled. "Living in the forests of Turkey with my friends in the cold of winter, there were times when I was close to death," he said in an interview with the IPC.

Hassanzada was displaced several times in search of a peaceful country to live in, and faced countless dangers before finally finding safety in Austria. His life has been full of challenges, he says, including the loss of his right hand, but sport has shown him how to turn setbacks into opportunities. His journey to the Paralympics has shown that "refugees can succeed despite all the problems they face," he said.

Guillaume Junior Atanganga was sprinting for Cameroon in Tokyo. He said his training for the 100m and 400m T11 events in Paris was hampered when his guide and fellow refugee Donard Ndim Nyamjua was injured: "A lot of people wanted to be in the team. So I had to pull out all the stops to be the best," said Atanganga. He originally wanted to be a great footballer, but turned to athletics when he lost his sight. He now lives in the UK and will be competing in the 100m and 400m T11 events in Paris.

After Hadi Darvish, a refugee from Iran, found a gym that would accept an athlete in a wheelchair and without a bank account, he thrived in powerlifting and won a German title in a championship for able-bodied athletes in 2022. Supported by the RPT, he won a bronze medal in the men's 80kg at the Tbilisi 2024 World Cup in June.

Shot putter Salman Abbariki will also be competing in athletics at a second Paralympics. He won gold at the 2010 Asian Para Games and broke the Asian record. Completing the team are Sayed Amir Hossein Pour, who won the Asian junior table tennis title for Iran, and wheelchair fencer Amelio Castro Grueso.

"No matter how difficult their circumstances, these athletes have found a way to compete at the highest level of Paralympic sport," said team chef de mission Nyasha Mharakurwa, who represented Zimbabwe in wheelchair tennis at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. "They represent not only the world's displaced people, but the world's 1.2 billion people with disabilities."