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Tokyo 2020 Refugee Olympic Team member Kimia Alizadeh receives Bulgarian citizenship


17 April 2024 – Olympic medallist and member of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020 Kimia Alizadeh has received Bulgarian citizenship, and will aim to represent Bulgaria at the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

In a positive step for Alizadeh, this grants her nationality, stability and protection, allowing her to focus on her sporting career away from the many challenges so often faced by refugee athletes.

“I would like to say a massive thank you to the IOC and its staff members, for your unwavering commitment and support to me. Although I am leaving the programme, I will always feel the attachment to my IOC family”

Kimia Alizadeh

As a Bulgarian citizen, Alizadeh would no longer be eligible to represent the Refugee Olympic Team (EOR) at Paris 2024, as she no longer has the required refugee status. Alizadeh has been a Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holder since January 2021 and represented the Refugee Olympic Team at Tokyo 2020 in the -57kg women’s taekwondo event, where she came very close to becoming the first refugee athlete to win an Olympic medal when she achieved a fourth place.

“This is a great development for Kimia, and I have no doubt she will continue to inspire millions of people around the world with her courage. She has etched her name into the history of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team, and we wish her all the very best for her future,” says Jojo Ferris, Head of the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF).

To be eligible for the Refugee Athlete Support programme, and ultimately represent the EOR, athletes must be competitive in their respective sport and be refugees in their host country, as recognised by UNCHR, the UN Refugee Agency.

The composition of the Refugee Olympic Team for Paris 2024 will be announced by the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, during a special live-streamed event on 2 May. The IOC Executive Board (EB) will decide on the composition of the EOR for Paris 2024, considering each athlete’s sporting performance. Balanced representation in terms of sport, gender and regions will also be taken into consideration.


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