Afghan Woman Named Chef De Mission Of The Refugee Olympic Team For Paris Olympic Games

(MENAFN- IANS) Lausanne, Dec 11 (IANS) Afghanistan's woman cyclist Masomah Ali Zada, who competed in road cycling as a member of the Refugee Olympic Team Tokyo 2020, has been named as the Chef de Mission for the Refugee Olympic Team at next year's Paris Olympics.

Masomah Ali Zada, who is a member of the Athletes' Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), was born in Afghanistan but has been a refugee since 2017 after leaving the conservative country to seek success in sports. She got asylum in France in 2017.

The International Olympic Committee announced this on Monday, making Ali Zada the figurehead and spokesperson of the Refugee Team.

She is joined by Bernadette Castel-Hollingsworth, Deputy Director of the Division of International Protection at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, as Deputy Chef de Mission. This follows a decision by the IOC Executive Board (EB).

Ali Zada was born in Afghanistan into a conservative community where girls were not encouraged to ride bikes. She became the target of threats when she and a group of women started racing competitively. Despite the many barriers she faced, she persevered and ultimately competed as a member of the Afghan women's national cycling team. She became a refugee in 2017 and claimed asylum in France. Soon after, she received an IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship, which was another step towards achieving her dream of competing at the Olympic Games.

She is currently studying civil engineering at the University of Lille. She was appointed to the IOC Athletes' Commission in July 2022.

IOC President Thomas Bach said:“I am delighted to welcome Masomah into her role as Chef de Mission. Having seen her journey from when she left Afghanistan to compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020, and now becoming the leader of the Refugee Olympic Team, I cannot think of anyone better to represent this team and the more than 110 million displaced people around the world.

"Much like all the other athletes on this team, she shows us what refugees and displaced people can and do achieve and contribute to society, and I look forward to seeing her lead by example,” Bach was quoted as saying by IOC in a release on Monday.

On learning of her appointment, Ali Zada said:“For me, it is a source of pride to be able to represent not only the athletes and the team but also the more than 100 million displaced people around the world. In Paris, we have an opportunity to show the world what refugees are really capable of, and redefine the way the world sees us.”

As Chef de Mission, Ali Zada will serve as the figurehead and spokesperson for the Refugee Olympic Team, ensuring that the best interests of all the Team members are met and that the platform provided by the Olympic Games serves to demonstrate the role sport can play in creating inclusive societies, and the enrichment that refugees can be to our communities.




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