International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach declared Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly that migrants and refugees who are also top athletes will be allowed to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
"At present none of these athletes would have the chance to participate in the Olympic Games even if qualified from the sports point of view because, with their refugee status, they are left without a home country and National Olympic Committee to represent," Bach said, via ABC News.
"Having no national team to belong to, having no flag to march behind, having no national anthem to be played, these refugee athletes will be welcomed to the Olympic Games with the Olympic flag and with the Olympic anthem."
The refugees who compete will do so with a "stateless" status. An Olympic Truce, brought into being by a resolution supported by 180 out of 193 UN member states, will last from seven days before the start of the summer games, which last from August 5 through August 21, until seven days after the Paralympic Games, which occur between Sept. 7 and Sept. 18.
"The Olympic Games are the time when the values of tolerance, solidarity and peace are brought to life," Bach told the assembled nations. "This is the time when the international community comes together for peaceful competition."
Bach also noted that the IOC has created a $2.75 million fund "to bring hope through sport to refugees, according to the Associated Press.
At present, there are approximately 20 million refugees across the world. That number is growing, per UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres, thanks in large part to the more than 500,000 refugees and migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who had entered Europe this year.
"At the same time, we are assisting high-level refugee athletes to continue their sports careers," Bach said, per the AP. "We help them to make their dream of sporting excellence come true even when they have to flee from violence and hunger."
Bach insisted that the Olympic Games were founded on principles of non-discrimination and that the IOC has "ensured that we are in compliance with the highest standards of good governance and transparency," something he hopes will serve the refugee athletes who do compete in the games well in Rio.
"They will have a home together with all the other 11,000 athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees in the Olympic Village."