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Refugee athletes to be backed by a new home crowd at Olympics

May 3, 2024

Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) is calling on Olympic fans across Europe to come together to pledge their support for the Refugee Olympic Team by creating a new ‘Home Crowd’ as the athletes prepare to compete in Paris this summer. 

The Refugee Olympic Team was first created for Rio 2016 by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach in celebration of Olympic Solidarity. Paris 2024 will be the first Summer Olympic Games in eight years where fans will be able to cheer on the athletes within Olympic venues and never before has there been a greater need for a fervent following for refugee athletes competing on the world’s biggest stage.  

According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, more than 114 million people1 globally – and counting -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 Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 or roughly double the number since the first refugee athletes competed at Rio 2016. 

Following the announcement of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team on 2 May, with athletes predominantly selected from 73 Refugee Athlete Scholarship holders, WBD is calling on the world to back the team on the road to Paris and beyond while offering support to vulnerable communities.

Scott Young, Group SVP Content, Production and Business Operations at WBD Sports Europe, said: “Through its diversity, its rivalries and above all its trailblazing athletes, sport has a unique ability to unite communities in celebration of human achievements. And, 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.   

“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. Today is just the beginning and we will be announcing even more initiatives designed to generate mass support for refugee athletes as we head towards Paris 2024.”     


To illuminate the stories of refugee athletes and their journey to the Games, WBD will be relentless in its pursuit of new voices, knowledge and innovation. To accelerate this mission and to connect new fans with refugee stories, Yusra Mardini is announced as Eurosport Reporter dedicated to covering the Refugee Olympic Team.  

The Syrian Refugee Olympic Team athlete, who competed at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador whose remarkable life story was told in the film The Swimmers, has landed her first reporting role and will be presenting live coverage on-site at Paris 2024, getting to the heart of every story involving refugee athletes.  

Yusra Mardini, Eurosport Reporter for the Refugee Olympic Team, said: “It is an incredible opportunity for me. 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. 

“My message is that this is a time where you can open your heart and your mind for this team and watch the way they compete and listen to their stories. They went through a lot of hardship to get to this point. I’m just excited to see them compete and show the world that just because you’re a refugee, it doesn’t mean that you cannot do what you dream of.” 


To kickstart the first phase of the campaign, WBD has produced a powerful new short film launching on 3 May starring refugee athletes competing in an empty stadium. With the team being the only one from 206 nations not to benefit from the support of a home crowd cheering them on, the film inspires viewers to create a new community to get behind the athletes as they prepare to compete at some of the world’s most iconic venues in Paris.  

In addition, WBD will also leverage the full scale of its international channels, platforms and digital sites to tell these stories while providing a space where refugees’ voices can be heard. This includes new first-person Refugees’ Voice features on as well as showing on-demand documentaries via Max, discovery+ and the Eurosport App such as We Dare to Dream directed by Oscar nominated Waad Al-Kateab, which stories the dramatic challenges faced by refugee athletes competing for a place at Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.  

WBD first set out to create a Home Crowd for the Refugee Olympic Team ahead of Tokyo 2020 by launching content including Trailblazers, telling the stories of sporting pioneers who have inspired change, and In Conversation which brought together UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors including Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and seven-time Olympic champion for Team USA Katie Ledecky for conversations with refugee athletes. The ambition is to now bring these stories to an even wider audience in build up to the Games while ensuring athletes have the support of a home crowd when they compete in Paris this summer. 

WBD is guided by its core social impact pillar of supporting vulnerable communities and is committed to harnessing sport and storytelling as a vehicle for raising greater awareness of refugee causes. In 2023 it signed up to The Multistakeholder Pledge on Sport for Inclusion and Protection of Refugees (Sport Pledge) at the UNHCR Global Refugee Forum which promotes access to, and opportunities through sport for, and with, displaced people and host communities, contributing to more inclusive and cohesive societies. 

Categories: Press Releases

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