Press Releases, Human Rights

Athleten Deutschland Calls for Harmonized Lex Refugee in the International Sports Federations

Berlin, September 29, 2020. After the recent turnaround of the International Canoe Federation (ICF) in the case of Saeid Fazloula, Athleten Deutschland calls for harmonized regulations in the International Sports Federations (IFs) for the nomination of refugee athletes for the Refugee Olympic Team (ROT). The Olympic Refugee Team is an outstanding project of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which as a sign of humanity gives hope to refugees worldwide and makes an important contribution to the understanding among nations.

Maximilian Klein, Representative for International Sports Policy: “The case of Saeid Fazloula clearly shows that the IOC and International Sports Federations have a special responsibility and duty to protect athletes who have become refugees. They must now urgently bring an end to the current hotchpotch and work towards a harmonized Lex Refugee within the federations before the Tokyo Games. It is unacceptable that refugee athletes have unequal chances of being admitted to the refugee team just because they are in the wrong federation.”

Athleten Deutschland welcomes that the ICF, after the German public broadcaster ARD covered the story on September 27, is now recommending the start of Saeid Fazloula in the Olympic Refugee Team and plans to learn lessons from this case with the announcement of regulations for refugees. Athleten Deutschland hopes that the IOC will now allow Saeid Fazloula to start at the Olympic Games.

Following a report in the ARD-Sportschau on September 27, 2020, the case of the canoeist Saeid Fazloula became public. After fleeing Iran, he has so far been living in Germany as a recognized political refugee without German citizenship. The ICF had initially refused his nomination for the Refugee Olympic Team on the grounds that Fazloula already fully represented Germany on an international level and thus, according to the statutes of the ICF, had found a host country for his sporting career. According to the ICF, a start for the Refugee Olympic Team would not have been possible without Iranian approval. Furthermore, the ICF had initially doubted the refugee status of Fazloula.

According to the ARD investigations, about five years after the introduction of the Olympic Refugee Team, almost two thirds of the 33 International Sports Federations represented at the Summer Games lacked clear rules for refugees. That it could be done differently is shown by a provision in Taekwondo, which allows athlete Dina Pouryounes, also from Iran, to join the Olympic refugee team and at the same time allows her to compete in other international competitions for her host country, the Netherlands.