World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Why We Should Support Refugee Athletes’ Olympic Medal Hopes In Tokyo: UNHCR

Ahead of Tokyo 2021, it’s never been more important to support the refugee athletes who have escaped conflict and persecution and who continue to train, despite the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s the message from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, which on Tuesday called for support for more than 60 Refugee Olympic and Paralympic athletes currently dedicating their lives to training for the games.

To mark the UN’s International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, 6 April, UNHCR has released ‘The Journey,’ a social video depicting the extraordinary stories of refugee Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls.

It highlights how sport is more than just a leisure activity; it has the power to bring hope and change for all those forced to flee.

© Japan for UNHCR/Atsushi Shibu | Rose Nathike Lokonyen (right), a South Sudanese refugee, runs with her teammate at a high-altitude training camp in Iten, Kenya.

Winning barefoot

The story it tells, is similar to the life of track and field athlete, Rose Nathike Lokonyen, a South Sudanese refugee living in Kenya.

She grew up in the Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya after fleeing violence in South Sudan when she was just eight years old.

During a school competition in the camp, she ran a 10-kilometre race and finished second.

When trials for the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Refugee Olympic Team training squad came to Kakuma Camp, Rose won her race barefoot.


She went on to train in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi for the Olympic 800-metre event and carried the flag for the first Refugee Olympic Team in history, at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Now she is training hard in the hope of getting to Tokyo. “I want to help people everywhere better understand the lives of refugees and the power sport can have to change lives”, said Ms. Lokonyen.

As an official High Profile Supporter for UNHCR, she was one of two IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holders who collaborated on the video’s production.

‘The Journey’ tells the dramatised story of a refugee who is forced to flee her home on foot escaping conflict and persecution.

Podium dreams

Travelling over land and sea, she eventually reaches safety, reestablishes her life and starts running towards a new goal: a medal.

UNHCR works closely with the IOC and IPC to support the refugee athletes who continue to train despite the challenges of displacement and the Covid 19 pandemic.

“Against the odds, these extraordinary athletes have kept their dreams alive to represent millions of refugees around the world,” said Dominique Hyde, UNHCR’s Director of External Relations.

“Together with our partners the IOC and IPC we’re dedicated to a world in which all those who have been forced to flee – including those with disabilities – can access their right to sport and play at all levels,” he added.

With more than 80 million people now displaced worldwide, UNHCR is working with governments, the sporting world, civil society and refugees to enable access and participation in sport at all levels for every person forced to flee, including those with disabilities.

‘The Journey’ was created for UNHCR, in partnership with the IOC and International Paralympic Committee, by award-winning agency, Don't Panic, and directed by Pantera through Anonymous Content.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN Agency: Thousands Flee Fresh Clashes In Central African Republic

Recent fighting between government forces and rebels in northern Central African Republic (CAR) has forced more than 2,000 refugees into neighboring Chad over the past week, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday. According to the agency, ... More>>

UN Chief: World On The Verge Of Climate ‘Abyss’, As Temperature Rise Continues

The Earth’s temperature continues to rise unabated, with 2020 being one of the three warmest years on record, as extreme weather events combine with the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting millions. According to the World Meteorological Organization’s ... More>>

Covid: 250 Groups Urge WTO Chief To Ditch Pharma-Friendly Approach And Embrace Vaccine Patent Waiver

by Jake Johnson, staff writer An international coalition of 250 civil society groups on Tuesday urged the head of the World Trade Organization to embrace a temporary suspension of coronavirus vaccine-related patents, warning against pursuit of a voluntary ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

C40: UN Secretary-General's Remarks To Meeting With Leading Mayors Supported By Cities

UN Secretary-General's remarks to Meeting with Leading Mayors Supported by C40 Cities: “Advancing a Carbon-Neutral, Resilient Recovery for Cities and Nations” 16 April 2021 Thank you for joining me today, and for your commitment and leadership. Cities ... More>>

Awake At Night: S3-Episode 21: There Is Hope

Brazzaville visit to CSI Pilote du Diabete with Health workers at a local government clinic. 2018 - Photo: ©CSI/Dr. Soumya Swaminathan 'When it comes to a pandemic, it really needs global collaboration and solidarity because the pathogens and viruses More>>

UN: Growing Calls For Revamping Development Financing To Ensure Sustainable Global Recovery From COVID-19 Pandemic

Forum to highlight new initiatives to tackle inequalities exacerbated by pandemic With many economies reeling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as inequalities continue to widen, world leaders will discuss options to unlock concrete investments ... More>>