Refugee Olympic Team highlights worldwide refugee crisis

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – The 10 members of the Olympic refugee team received a standing ovation when they were introduced Tuesday at the IOC’s general assembly meeting.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach says “the ultimate goal of the refugee team is that we don’t need one anymore.”

Bach seemed to be near tears as he introduced the athletes from Syria, South Sudan, Congo and Ethiopia, and then gave a big hug to the leader of the delegation, the former Olympian Tegla Loroupe from Kenya.

Addressing some 100 IOC members, Bach says we “wanted to send a message of hope to all refugees. The refugee team will make the world more aware of the crisis.”

Yusra Mardini, a swimmer from Syria, says “we didn’t choose to leave our homelands, we didn’t choose the name of refugee.” And she added “we are still human, we are like everybody else.”

The Olympic refugee team is made up of sportsmen and women who have talent and drive, and the same dreams of competing on the world’s largest stage as athletes from all over the globe. But they have no way of representing their countries, countries they were forced to flee. So they’ve been given a flag, the Olympic flag, to march behind at the opening ceremony in Rio and to compete under at the games. These are their stories.

“These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem,” IOC president Thomas Bach said in a press release. “We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes of the world. The Olympic anthem will be played in their honor, and the Olympic flag will lead them into the Olympic Stadium. This will be a symbol of hope for all the refugees in our world, and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis. It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society. These refugee athletes will show the world that despite the unimaginable tragedies that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talent, skills and strength of the human spirit.”

The 10-member team includes two refugees from Syria, five from South Sudan, two from Congo and one from Ethiopia.

Refugee Olympic Team athletes:

[vc_tta_accordion color=”sky” active_section=”1″][vc_tta_section title=”Rami Anis (M)” tab_id=”1470343787005-0f548079-32e5″]

Country of origin – Syria; host NOC – Belgium; sport – swimming

[/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Yiech Pur Biel (M)” tab_id=”1470343787108-636e0b62-1bec”]

Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 800m

[/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”James Nyang Chiengjiek (M)” tab_id=”1470343947905-8567f9ee-0a5d”]

Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 400m

[/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Yonas Kinde (M)” tab_id=”1470344011125-82b2fe9c-ff4a”]

Country of origin – Ethiopia; host NOC – Luxembourg; sport – athletics, marathon

[/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Anjelina Nada Lohalith (F)” tab_id=”1470344044589-e821bbbb-0174″]

Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 1500m

[/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Rose Nathike Lokonyen (F)” tab_id=”1470344308974-60214f4a-c956″]

Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 800m

[/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Paulo Amotun Lokoro (M)” tab_id=”1470344357846-a6f15064-1268″]

Paulo Amotun Lokoro (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 1500m

[/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Yolande Bukasa Mabika (F)” tab_id=”1470344418101-9e361df0-20be”]

Country of origin – Democratic Republic of the Congo; host NOC – Brazil; sport – judo, -70kg

[/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Yusra Mardini (F)” tab_id=”1470344455770-688e81e4-0d9a”]

Country of origin – Syria; host NOC – Germany; sport – swimming

[/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Popole Misenga (M)” tab_id=”1470344491403-dccfce1f-06dd”]

Country of origin – Democratic Republic of the Congo; host NOC – Brazil; sport – judo, -90kg

[/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_accordion]

According to the Official Olympics website, these are the rules that have been determined for the Refugee Olympic Team:

  • The team will be housed in the Olympic Village like all the other teams;
  • The team will get its own welcome ceremony at the Olympic Village, like all other teams;
  • The team uniforms will be provided by the IOC;
  • For all official representations of the team (including possible medal ceremonies), the Olympic flag will be raised and the Olympic Anthem will be played;
  • A proper doping control process will be introduced through the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA); and
  • Olympic Solidarity will cover preparation, travel and other participation expenses for the team and will continue to support the athletes of the team after the Olympic Games;
  • The IOC will continue to support the refugee athletes even after the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

video downloaded with privileges from the International Olympic Committee Newsroom

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