Five people represented Palestine at the Tokyo Olympics. One of them lives in Ottawa. OFIP talks to Yazan Al Bawwab about his experience

Yazan Al Bawwab is one of five Palestinians who represented the country in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He grew up in Dubai and holds both Palestinian and Italian citizenship. Al-Bawwab is an engineering student at Carleton University in Ottawa. He competed in the men’s 100 meter freestyle on July 27, 2021, at the Tokyo Aquatics Center. CTIP caught up with him shortly after his return to Ottawa. Watch the interview.

Palestine has been represented at the Olympics since 1998.

For any athlete to make it to the Olympics is an amazing feat. It requires hours of dedicated training, years of competition and of course, exceptional strength and stamina.

Canadian athletes for example benefit from financial assistance from Sports Canada, excellent coaching and of course, travel across Canada and around the globe to participate in competitive events to test themselves against the best and improve their techniques

For a Palestinian to make it to the Olympics is an astounding feat because it has to be done without all the usual supports and assistance available to athletes from countries like Canada.

Yazan al-Bawwab is an exceptional young athlete. He is Palestinian. His parents are Palestinian refugees – his mother from Jerusalem and his dad from al Lifta. And although he represented Palestine in Tokyo, he does not live in Palestine. In fact he has never lived in Palestine. He has only recently gained permission to visit Palestine.

Shortly after his return to Ottawa where he is studying engineering at Carleton University, CTIP asked him about his experiences. How did he earn the right to represent Palestine? What obstacles did he face? And what reception did he get? You might be interested in his answers.


Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

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