IWF launches Refugee Team programme for 2024
After a very positive first experience in 2023, the IWF is happy to announce the renovation of its IWF Refugee Team programme for the year of 2024. The applications for potential candidates to be part of the project were sent today, while the deadline to receive the proposals is January 31, 2024. On February 28, the IWF decides on the final constitution of the IWF Refugee Team for 2024.
The new programme stipulates that a minimum of four athletes (two male, two female) will be part of the team – any IOC Refugee Scholarship holder will be automatically added to this number. As in 2023, a coach/manager will also be appointed to supervise the team’s activities, while next year’s novelties include the nomination of a physiotherapist.
Monique de Araujo, member of the 2023 IWF Refugee Team
In terms of eligibility, athletes must be officially recognised as refugees in their country, in accordance with the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and may be entered in IWF events. Asylum seekers are not accepted in the programme. Moreover, lifters are required to have a travel document and must comply with article 5.5.16 of the IWF Anti-Doping Rules, by which whereabouts information of the athletes shall be submitted at minimum three months prior to the event. Finally, all athletes and support personnel must complete the WADA ADEL online course before competing and present their certificate to the IWF/ITA. In accordance with article 17.2.2 of the IWF Anti-Doping Rules, the IWF may also decide to request that athletes complete education activities before and/or during their participation in selected events as a condition of such participation.
The 2023 IWF Refugee Team at a training camp
The 2024 IWF Refugee Team programme will be effective until the conclusion of the IWF World Championships, next December in Manama (BRN). While these athletes are not part of the Olympic Qualification system, they will be able to attend IWF competitions throughout the year and will be invited to take part in at least one training camp during the upcoming months.
Aline de Souza, a happy lifter at the 2023 IWF World Championships
“It is a very important project, leading to the inclusion in our IWF family of athletes that otherwise could not have any opportunity to compete in the sport they love. We have now some experience from this year’s programme and the challenges we may have encountered are known and we will try to minimise them in 2024,” confessed Florian Sperl, IWF Executive Board member and co-ordinator of the project. “We will do our utmost to ensure that lifters on the team will have all the possibilities to compete at international level. All of them have gone through extremely difficult moments, but they never abandoned weightlifting. It is now our turn to reward them for their perseverance and devotion,” concluded Mr Sperl.
Part of the 2023 IWF Refugee Team at the EWF Cup
The IWF President Mohammed Jalood is also very optimistic about the outcome of this important initiative: “Following the IOC’s guidance on this project, the IWF is now proud of having a consolidated Refugee Team programme. The lifters who are part of this project bring an additional dimension of universality and inclusion to our Sport,” Mr Jalood considered. “I will never forget the happy faces of the two refugee team lifters that were able to compete at the 2023 IWF World Championships last September in Riyadh. Both of them were incredibly thrilled to be back to this cherished family of weightlifting! Moreover, they produced quite solid results, demonstrating that despite the challenges they keep their devotion and willingness to perform well,” the IWF President added.