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Warner Bros. Discovery champions support for Refugee Olympic Team at Paris 2024

13 May 2024 – Olympic media partner Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has launched a new campaign rallying Olympic fans to form a “Home Crowd” in support of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team competing at the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

The initiative follows the announcement of the 36 athletes from 11 different countries who will form the IOC Refugee Olympic Team for Paris 2024, and calls on sports fans around Europe to back the team on the road to the Games and beyond, while also offering support to vulnerable communities. The 36 selected athletes are hosted by the NOCs of Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA. They will compete in athletics, badminton, boxing, breaking, canoeing, cycling, judo, sport shooting, swimming, taekwondo, weightlifting and wrestling.

To kickstart the campaign, WBD has produced a powerful short film that shows refugee athletes competing in an empty stadium. The film emphasises that the IOC Refugee Olympic Team differs from typical Olympic teams as it lacks the support of fans from a single National Olympic Committee. It therefore encourages viewers to form a new group of fans for these athletes as they get ready to participate at Paris 2024.

As part of the campaign, WBD will also use its global channels, platforms and digital sites to share the stories of the refugee athletes, providing a space where their voices can be heard. This will include first-person Refugees’ Voice features on and on-demand documentaries available on Max, discovery+ and the Eurosport app. One such documentary is We Dare to Dream – directed by Oscar-nominated Waad Al-Kateab – which highlights the intense challenges refugee athletes faced while trying to qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Scott Young, Group SVP for Content, Production and Business Operations at WBD Sports Europe, explained that the “Home Crowd” initiative emphasises the unifying power of sport.

“Through its diversity, its rivalries and above all its trailblazing athletes, sport has a unique ability to unite communities in celebration of human achievements,” he said.

“As passionate storytellers, we are uniquely privileged to be able to harness our international reach to support our purpose-driven mission to demonstrate the power of sport in helping displaced people and vulnerable communities to reshape their futures by bringing these stories to the widest possible audience.”

Scott Young – Group SVP for Content, Production and Business Operations at WBD Sports Europe

Yusra Mardini to join Eurosport team

To further highlight the stories of refugee athletes and their journeys to the Games, WBD has appointed Yusra Mardini as a Eurosport reporter for Paris 2024, focusing on the Refugee Olympic Team.

Mardini, a Syrian refugee and swimmer who competed at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 as a member of the Refugee Olympic Team, will be reporting live from Paris, providing in-depth coverage of the refugee athletes to help connect new fans with their stories.

“It is an incredible opportunity for me,” said Mardini, a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador whose remarkable life story was told in the film The Swimmers.

“My role will be reporting on site, specifically about the Refugee Olympic Team and the most exciting stories about the Olympics. It’s going to be a really exciting time to bring awareness about refugees and why we’re doing what we do as athletes.”

Yusra Mardini – Syrian refugee and swimmer who competed at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 as a member of the Refugee Olympic Team

WBD’s Young added: “We are delighted to welcome Yusra Mardini to our ranks, an inspirational athlete and storyteller who will be joining our team of presenters embedded in the heart of Paris this summer to help us authentically connect audiences all around the world with the athletes and stories from the Refugee Olympic Team.”

Increasing awareness of refugee causes

The Refugee Olympic Team was first created for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach to aid potential elite athletes affected by the worldwide refugee crisis. Following this historic participation, Olympic Scholarships for Refugee Athletes were established.

The scholarships are fully funded by the IOC through its Olympic Solidarity programme for refugee athletes, and are managed by the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF). Fifty Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holders were supported in the build-up to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, with 29 athletes in 12 sports eventually being selected and competing for the IOC Refugee Olympic Team at those Games.

A total of 74 refugee athletes have benefitted from scholarships for Paris 2024. They live in 24 host countries and represent 14 sports.

According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, more than 114 million people globally are estimated to be forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict and human rights violations. This represents an increase of more than 40 per cent since the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, or roughly double the number since the first refugee athletes competed at Rio 2016.

WBD is dedicated to helping vulnerable communities and aims to use sport and storytelling to increase awareness about refugee issues. In 2023, at the UNHCR Global Refugee Forum, it signed up to the Multistakeholder Pledge on Sport for Inclusion and Protection of Refugees (Sport Pledge), which promotes access to sport and creates opportunities for displaced people and local communities, helping to build more inclusive and united societies. The Sport Pledge was developed by a dedicated multistakeholder group and guided by the Olympic Refuge Foundation, UNHCR and the Scort Foundation, as co-convenors of the Sport for Refugees Coalition.


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