10/27/2015 07:15 EDT | Updated 10/27/2016 05:12 EDT

Refugees Will Be Able To Compete In Next Summer Olympics For The First Time: IOC Chief

Refugees will march in the opening ceremonies behind the Olympic flag.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach listens to a reporter's question during a news conference at the office of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. Bach is on a two-day trip on the last leg of his four-city Asian tour. South Korea's eastern city PyeongChang is the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

The president of the International Olympic Committee has announced that highly qualified athletes who are refugees will be allowed to compete in the Olympics for the first time.

IOC President Thomas Bach made the announcement to the U.N. General Assembly which adopted a resolution Monday urging all countries to observe a truce during the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Bach appealed to all 193 U.N. member states to help the IOC identify talented refugee athletes.

Until now, he said, qualified refugee athletes were not able to participate because they couldn't represent their home country and its national Olympic committee.

But he said the IOC has decided to welcome refugee athletes to the Olympics and they will march in the opening ceremonies behind the Olympic flag.


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