Swimmers Alaa Maso, Eyad Masoud Among 44 IOC Refugee Scholarship Recipients

Photo Courtesy: Twitter, @RefugeesOlympic

Syrian Swimmers Alaa Maso, Eyad Masoud Among 44 IOC Refugee Scholarship Recipients

The IOC has announced 44 scholarship recipients for the Refugee Olympic Team on the pathway to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The group includes athletes from 12 countries in 12 sports and includes swimmers Alaa Maso and Eyad Masoud, both Syrian refugees. Refugees, through the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), have been resettled and are being supported by the national Olympic committees of 16 nations.

The contingent of athletes is being supported through the Olympic Solidarity program, fully funded by the IOC and managed by the Olympic Refuge Foundation. Of the group, 41 athletes have received Refugee Athletes Scholarships, while three have benefits from “transition scholarships.”

These athletes are candidates to represent the Refugee Olympic Team at the Paris Games, the third Olympics at which athletes displaced from their home countries can compete under the Olympic flag. (In Paris, the team will be under the acronym EOR, for Equipe Olympique des Réfugiés.)

“We welcome you to the Olympic community and wish you luck in qualification,” IOC president Thomas Bach said in a press release this week. “I know what a difficult period it is to go through to qualify for the Olympic Games, and so we admire how you are meeting the challenge given all the difficulties you have overcome.”

Maso, 22, grew up in Aleppo, training as a swimmer and triathlete. Among those he trained with in his youth were Rio Refugee Olympian Yusra Mardini.

Maso fled Syria in 2015 during that country’s civil war. He journeyed through Europe to settle in Germany, where he has resumed his training and schooling. Maso competed in the Tokyo Olympics in the men’s 50-meter freestyle.

Masoud, 27, likewise fled Syria, by way of Saudi Arabia, before being relocated to New Zealand. Masoud trains at the Auckland University of Technology, where he studies mechanical engineering.