Muna Dahouk is one of the members of the IJF Refugee Team who has been participating in world judo events for several years. She will be part of the IJF Refugee Team for the Olympics this summer, at-57kg. She will also participate in the mixed team event. Since her selection was announced in early May by the International Olympic Committee, she has had time to reflect on what this means to her and to millions of refugees around the world.
Muna Dahouk at the Grand Prix Portugal 2023

"I feel so happy and proud of myself and my teammates. Before the announcement of the selection, I was optimistic, so my reaction was simple, I was just full of joy and gratitude for everyone who made that possible.

This will be my second Olympic participation. The first time was three years ago in Japan. Tokyo will remain special forever because it was my first participation but I truly believe that Paris will be wonderful and very exciting.

I am now training in the Netherlands with my teammate Mohammad Rashnonezhad (-60kg). We are preparing for the training camps that will be held before Paris 2024."

Muna was born in Damascus, Syria, in August 1995. She started judo in her home country at the age of six together her sister. Why judo? The reason is simple, "Simply because my father was a judo teacher, so it was natural for me to step on the tatami."

Because of the war in Syria though, Muna had to flee to the Netherlands in 2019, where she has been living ever since. Besides a sporting career, she graduated from a commercial and banking institute in Syria and began studying sport once she arrived in the Netherlands. Today her normal daily life is one of a top level athlete who focuses on her health and training.

Through her career, Muna wants to show that everything is possible. "We am here to prove ourselves as refugees. We lived through difficult circumstances that we can confront through sports and fighting to make the world see that refugees have rights; we need to fight for them. Throughout those years, my family was my strongest support. Nothing would have been possible without them.

Muna Dahouk at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Today, my dream is that the wars end, any war, and that we live in peace. I want us to be able to return to our countries to build them again. As a judoka my dream is that one day our team gets medals on the international circuit."

Beyond results there is something different: this is judo and her participation in the Games, "Judo is a unique and distinct sport, a strict and strong activity built on respect and many moral values that create a special environment.

For sure being present this summer in Paris means a lot, it is a great honour for me to be on the mat in the individual competition and in a mixed team with six players from different nationalities. We represent each other first, then we also represent more than 100 million refugees around the world. It gives me a beautiful feeling of strength and freedom. My team are my supporters and my back bone.

Muna Dahouk

I want to say to any refugee in the world or anyone who faces difficulties that you should fight for yourself and your family and never give up. This life is worth living. I know it is difficult and painful, especially for refugees, but we are strong."

In the future Muna sees herself teaching judo to children. For the time being we will see her in Paris this summer and we will support her because more than the result, what counts is what she represents and that is freedom.

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