Migrants and refugees will be allowed to compete in the Rio 2016 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has declared.
In an announcement to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, IOC chief Thomas Bach said all nations should help identify athletic talent among any migrants they may be hosting. They will then compete as “stateless” athletes under the Olympic flag and anthem, The Guardian reports.
“This will be a symbol of hope for all the refugees in our world, and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis,” Mr Bach said.
He added that the IOC has created a $2 million fund “to bring hope through sport to refugees.”
“At the same time, we are assisting high-level refugee athletes to continue their sports careers,” he added.
“We help them to make their dream of sporting excellence come true even when they have to flee from violence and hunger.”
More than 500,000 migrants have entered Europe so far this year, with thousands more set to follow in their footsteps.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was strongly criticised after saying in August that all asylum seekers would be welcome to stay, thus prompting a huge rise in the number of migrants crossing the continent.
Her pledge created a backlash within her own party followed by a hasty retreat, with Interior Minister Thomas de Mazière saying last month: “We want to send a clear signal to those (who are not fleeing war), don’t come here, you have no chance, you will have to leave our country,”
Mr Bach made the announcement after the UN General Assembly adopted a motion calling for a world-wide truce during the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic games. The truce would see all nations lay down their arms from seven days before the Olympics start on 5 August to seven days after the Paralympics finish on 18 September.
The General Assembly has adopted similar motions before every summer and winter Olympic Games since 1994, but no country has so far observed them.