Two refugees to compete at Paralympic Games

Updated: 

Two refugees will compete as part of an Independent Paralympic Athletes (IPA) team at the Rio 2016 Games, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced.

Syrian-born Ibrahim Al Hussein carried the torch in Athens, Greece, where he currently resides, and will participate in the men's 50 metre and 100m freestyle S10 events as a leg amputee.

Shahrad Nasajpour, an Iranian living in the United States, will take part in the men's discus F37 event, with the IPC respecting the athlete's request for confidentiality in terms of his personal circumstances.

"I have been dreaming of this for 22 years. I thought my dream had gone when I lost my leg, but now it is back for real," said Al Hussein.

"I can't believe I am going to Rio. I want to send a message to all those injured that they too can achieve their dreams."

The team will be supported by Great Britain's chef de mission Tony Sainsbury, who added: "Pulling everything together has been a real team effort and I am grateful to everyone who has helped, and all of the partners who have come through to support the team.

"These athletes will help to raise awareness of the plight of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers who make difficult decisions and journeys, often with impairments.

"They will help to drive social inclusion and spread the Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality around the world."

The IPA team will march first at the opening ceremony on September 7.

The news follows the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee from the Games, whose 267 athlete slots are being redistributed by the IPC.