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IOC undecided on refugee team for Tokyo Olympics

Opening Ceremony Rio 2016 Olympic Games

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 05: Flag bearer Rose Lokonyen Nathike of the Refugee Olympic Team leads her team during the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maracana Stadium on August 5, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

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The International Olympic Committee expects to decide in two years if it will have a refugee team at the 2020 Olympics, an official said Tuesday.

The first Olympic refugee team competed in Rio, with 10 athletes in three sports from South Sudan, Syria, Congo and Ethiopia.

“To have the Olympic refugee team in Rio was not an objective in itself,” Pere Miro, the IOC’s Deputy Director General for Relations with the Olympic Movement, told media in Lausanne, Switzerland. “It was a mean to put that in front of the world. ... We go step by step.

“What we want is to support these persons that they have this very difficult life around the world.”

Miro said it has been proposed that all National Olympic Committees be invited to identify refugee athletes in their respective countries to take part in international competitions for the next four years.

He also said the IOC has “not abandoned” the 10 refugee athletes from Rio and that the organization will take an active role in supporting them, either on their quest for Tokyo 2020 or with their post-Olympic lives.

“We have the duty to continue with them,” Miro said. “We are really in touch with every one of them.”

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