Taekwondo athlete Kasra Mehdipournejad has been named as one of the EOC Refugee Team's first flagbearers at the European Games ©Kraków-Małopolska 2023

Kasra Mehdipournejad and Cindy Winner Djankeu Ngamba have been named as the first-ever European Olympic Committees (EOC) Refugee Team flagbearers for tomorrow's Kraków-Małopolska 2023 European Games Opening Ceremony here.

The announcement coincided with the United Nations' World Refugee Day.

Iranian-born and Germany-based Mehdipournejad is set to compete in the men's under-80 kilograms taekwondo at the European Games, along with fellow Refugee Team member Dina Pouryounes Langeroudi, who competed for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Refugee Team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, in the women's under-46kg category.

Mehdipournejad expressed his pride at being selected as flagbearer.

"I am so excited," he said.

"This is the first time that I have competed at an international Games and this is a dream come true for me.

"We are representing refugees around the world during our time in Poland and I am very proud.

"I know many refugees have a difficult life and they may not have access to water and to medical supplies, but I would like to say to them to never give up and to always follow your dreams.

"Your dreams will always show the way."

Cameroonian-born Ngamba, who is based in Britain, is set to join Mehdipournejad as the Refugee Team's flagbearer.

Ngamba and fellow boxer Farid Walizadeh, born in Afghanistan and based in Portugal, complete the four-member EOC Refugee Team at Kraków-Małopolska 2023.

Ngamba is due to compete in the women's under-66kg and Walizadeh in the men's under-57kg.

Kimia Alizadeh, an Olympic taekwondo bronze medallist with Iran at Rio 2016, had been due to compete for the Refugee Team as well but has withdrawn.

The EOC also sealed an agreement with Poland-based 4F to serve as the Refugee Team's technical partner during Kraków-Małopolska 2023, and revealed more than 100 of the 10,000 volunteers at the Games are refugees from Ukraine.

Refugee Team Chef de Mission Gonzalo Barrio underlined the importance of enabling refugees to compete at the Games.

Tokyo 2020 Olympian Dina Pouryounes Langeroudi is one of four members of the EOC Refugee Team at Kraków-Małopolska 2023 ©Getty Images
Tokyo 2020 Olympian Dina Pouryounes Langeroudi is one of four members of the EOC Refugee Team at Kraków-Małopolska 2023 ©Getty Images

"As the Olympic Refuge Foundation, we are delighted to have a Refugee Team represented at the European Games, in a country that is currently hosting more than one million refugees," he said.

"Our two flag bearers Cindy and Kasra represent the diversity of refugee stories and backgrounds and will be a shining example for refugees around Europe and the world.

"The EOC Refugee Team will represent a world where displaced people can thrive through sport and send a message to all of Europe of their meaningful contribution to our communities."

An IOC Refugee Olympic Team has competed at the last two Summer Olympic Games, but Kraków-Małopolska 2023 is set to be the first continental Games featuring an equivalent team.

The European Games Opening Ceremony is scheduled for tomorrow at the Henryk Reyman Stadium, with the multi-sport event due to run until July 2.