Thomas Bach met youngsters at a refugee camp during his visit to Greece today ©Getty Images

At least one refugee will be involved when the Torch Relay for Rio 2016 is launched in Greece later this year, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach promised in Athens today. 

Bach was speaking during a visit to the Elaionas camp in Athens, where he played football and met refugees seeking a foothold in Europe after fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as parts of Africa.

"The Olympic Flame will pass through this camp here and will be shown to the refugees," the German, whose home country is currently facing a difference of opinion over whether to welcome or restrict the mass of refugees, said.

"One of the refugees will be invited to carry the Torch."

Bach was joined by several other influential figures, including his predecessor Jacques Rogge and European Olympic Committees President Patrick Hickey for his two-day visit to Greece, which has become the gateway to Europe for tens of thousands of refugees.

The United Nations estimates that more than 46,000 people have arrived in Greece already so far this year, with more than 170 people killed making the dangerous sea crossing.

Bach has prioritised using sport for wider development since he replaced Rogge as President in 2013. 

In September, the IOC announced that an emergency fund of $2 million (£1.3 million/€1.8 million) will be made available to National Olympic Committees to fund programmes aimed at helping refugees.

Thomas Bach playing football with youngsters at the Elaionas refugee camp ©Getty Images
Thomas Bach playing football with youngsters at the Elaionas refugee camp ©Getty Images

One of those selected to be helped by the programme, Iranian-born and Belgium-resident taekwondo player Raheleh Asemani, has since qualified for Rio 2016 at this month's qualification tournament in Istanbul.

A female Syrian swimmer now residing in Germany and a male judoka from the Democratic Republic of Congo are also being helped through the scheme.

All three are expected to compete under the IOC flag - including at the Opening Ceremony - should they qualify.

It remains possible several others could emerge to compete at the Olympics due to open in Rio de Janeiro on August 5.

Various European NOCs have also launched projects designed to provide support, including the Hellenic Olympic Committee and the German Olympic Sports Confederation.

"We want to draw the attention of the world to the problems of the refugees," Bach said.

"These athletes we are talking about have no National Olympic Committee, they have no home and they have no flag to march behind," 

The Flame is due to be lit in Ancient Olympia on April 21 before criss-crossing around Greece.

It will then be officially handed over to Brazil at a special ceremony in the Panathenaic Stadium before arriving in the host country to start a 100-day relay on May 3.