A team of up to 10 refugees could take part in the Rio Olympics after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gave the plan the green light on Wednesday.
So far, 43 high-performance athletes, who are also refugees, have been identified as possibly being eligible for the Games which get underway in the Brazilian city on August 5.
“The final number of athletes that would make up this team depends of qualification criteria,” said IOC president Thomas Bach after a meeting of the body’s executive committee on Wednesday.
He added that the team would compete under the flag of the IOC.
“I can just give you my feeling, but I believe that this team could feature between five and 10 athletes,” said Bach.
“We have all been touched by the magnitude of this refugee crisis. By welcoming this team, we want to send a message of hope to all the refugees in the world.”
The IOC had already identified in December three athletes who had fled their home countries and whose skills could be of a high enough standard to feature in the 2016 Olympics.
They were a Syrian swimmer based in Germany, a judoka from the Democratic Republic of Congo who was living in Brazil and an Iranian taekwondo fighter training in Belgium.