Thursday, 23 May 2024

Dreams Can Come True: Syrian Badminton Player Aram Mahmoud in Contention for IOC Refugee Olympic Team

Syrian badminton player Aram Mahmoud, who competes as a refugee under the Netherlands flag, is one of the 37 Refugee Athlete Scholarship-Holders in the running to be part of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

At just 21 years old, Mahmoud is currently ranked No. 190 in the men’s singles world rankings. As an independent player, he has been training at various centers, including the national training center in Papendal, the Regional Training Centre, Badminton Topsport Flevoland, and Cuntapay Badminton Academy. Mahmoud resides in Almere, where he also trains at the local club BV Almere.

Since October 2018, Mahmoud has been participating in international tournaments, achieving notable results. He emerged victorious at the YONEX Latvia International 2019, reached the quarterfinals at the 54 Portuguese International Championships 2019, and most recently secured a spot in the final four at the RSL Lithuania International 2019.

These outstanding performances have catapulted Mahmoud’s ranking from 300 in March to 190 as of June 18, showcasing his remarkable progress.

Mahmoud recently shared exciting news on social media, revealing that he has been awarded a scholarship by the IOC through its Olympic Solidarity program. This scholarship forms part of the Refugee Athlete Support program, enabling Mahmoud to pursue his dream of competing in the Olympics.

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Expressing his gratitude, Mahmoud stated that the scholarship will enhance his preparation for international tournaments while allowing him sufficient time to focus on his integration in the Netherlands.

The National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of various countries have identified and supported 13 new individual athletes under the Refugee Athlete Support Program. This announcement came on World Refugee Day, celebrated annually on June 20.

Poul-Erik Høyer, the President of the BWF, expressed his delight for Mahmoud and extended his best wishes for his Olympic journey. Høyer commended the IOC’s Refugee Athlete Support Program, emphasizing the importance of supporting refugee athletes in their pursuit of their Olympic dreams.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has been dedicated to promoting humanitarian and social development initiatives worldwide, including the refugee cause. Through partnerships with organizations such as the UN Refugee Agency and the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, the BWF has offered opportunities for refugee children to engage in sports activities.

The Refugee Athlete Support Program was launched by Olympic Solidarity (OS) following the success of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team in Rio 2016. This program enables NOCs to identify and support refugee athletes residing in their host countries, providing them with training grants and support to pursue their sporting careers and prepare for the Olympic Games.

Thomas Bach, the President of the IOC, expressed his belief that refugee athletes are an asset to both sports and society. He highlighted that the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Tokyo 2020 will serve as a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide and a reminder of the gravity of the refugee crisis.

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The final composition of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020 will be announced in June 2020. As Aram Mahmoud continues to chase his dream, his journey inspires others to pursue their aspirations and embrace the power of sports.