Refugee boxer to in transit in Guyana on way to Tokyo Olympic Games


Boxer Eldric Sella, an IOC Refugee Athlete, is set to in transit in Guyana this evening on his way to Japan for the Tokyo Olympic Games, set to start on Friday (July 23).

The Venezuela-born, who fled his homeland for a better life in Trinidad and Tobago, was granted refugee status, and subsequently became an IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holder in December 2020.

Sella is one of 29 Refugee Athletes who will compete in 12 disciplines at the Olympics.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said it is “a powerful message of solidarity and hope to the world this summer, bringing further awareness to the plight of over 80 million displaced people worldwide.”

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who is also Vice-Chairman of the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF), said the Refugee Athletes are an exceptional group of people who inspire the world.

“UNHCR is incredibly proud to support them as they compete at the Tokyo Olympics. Surviving war, persecution and the anxiety of exile already makes them extraordinary people, but the fact that they now also excel as athletes on the world stage fills me with immense pride,” Grandi said.

“It shows what is possible when refugees are given the opportunity to make the most of their potential. These athletes embody the hopes and aspirations of the more than 80 million people around the world who have been uprooted by war and persecution. They serve as a reminder that everyone deserves the chance to succeed in life.”

This will be the second time a Refugee Team has participated in the Olympic Games, following the first at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

Below is an article on Eldric Sella, published by the Olympic website (

Eldric Sella first stepped foot in a boxing gym when he was just 10 years old. His reasoning at the time, he writes in his personal blog, was to learn how to box so he could defend himself from others.

He has since come a long way from those early days in the “23 de Enero” neighbourhood in Venezuela and not just in terms of his own personal motivation.

After economic collapse ravaged Venezuela in 2014, political turmoil and violence soon followed, and for the aspiring professional boxer who was once part of the national team, there was little in the way of a future to be found.

Sella made the impossible decision to leave behind his family and the humanitarian crisis unfolding in his homeland in search of more stability and greater opportunity elsewhere.

He and his girlfriend fled to nearby Trinidad and Tobago where they were granted refugee status. Sella’s father, who incidentally is now his boxing coach, later joined them.

The father-son duo tasted their first success on Caribbean soil when Sella won silver in the Trinidad and Tobago Boxing Association’s Boxing Championship in 2019.

It set him on the path that led him to become an IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holder in December last year. The prospect it now presents him with is one he values immensely.

He writes: “In this programme, I will have the opportunity to participate in the Olympic Games and represent not only me, but millions of people around the world who, like me, were forced to leave their home and dreams behind.”

As for how he reflects on the home he was compelled to escape from, Sella never lets a day go by without it. He eats arepas, a Venezuelan national dish, every single day.

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