|From left, Kimia Alizadeh Zonouzi, Dina Pouryounes Langeroudi and Abdullah Sediqi have been selected as members of the Refugee Olympic Team for the upcoming Tokyo Games scheduled to begin next month. Courtesy of World Taekwondo|
By Hwang Dong-hee
Three taekwondo athletes have been included in the Refugee Olympic Team for the upcoming Tokyo Games.
World Taekwondo (WT), the global governing body of the sport, said Tuesday that Kimia Alizadeh Zonouzi (W-57kg), Dina Pouryounes Langeroudi (W-49kg) and Abdullah Sediqi (M-68kg) will fly to the city next month with 26 other athletes after being selected based on their "performance, refugee status and balanced representation across sports regions and genders."
The team, which was approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that day, will compete in 12 Olympic sports, sending a message of hope and peace and raising awareness of the plight of more than 80 million displaced people worldwide.
"We are extremely proud that Kimia, Dina and Abdullah have been selected to compete for the Refugee Olympic Team at Tokyo 2020. Each of them are exceptionally gifted athletes and will have every chance of making history as the first refugee athlete to win an Olympic medal," WT President Choue Chung-won said in a statement.
"We have no doubt that their performances at Tokyo 2020 will inspire millions of people around the world and help to generate greater awareness of the refugee crisis our world faces. At World Taekwondo we strongly believe in sport's capacity to empower people and motivate social change. We commend the IOC for the work they are doing in supporting refugee athletes and we will continue to do the same through our events and humanitarian initiatives."
Taekwondo is the third-most-represented sport in the Refugee Team after athletics and judo.
WT has demonstrated a long-term commitment to supporting refugee athletes, who can participate in its training programs through the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation and taekwondo events around the world.
This month, WT plans to hold its Online WT Poomsae Challenge II, with 400 participants including 12 refugees.