First-ever Refugee Olympic Team set to compete at Rio 2016
The Olympic Games will feature a new team this year.
For the first time, a team made up solely of refugees will take part in the Games. The Refugee Olympic Team, which features 10 athletes, was assembled by the International Olympic Committee this past June.
Of the 10 athletes, five are originally from South Sudan and will all compete in athletics. They are: Yiech Pur Biel (men’s 800m), James Nyang Chiengjiek (men’s 400m), Anjelina Nada Lohalith (women’s 1500m), Rose Nathike Lokonyen (women’s 800m) and Paulo Amotun Lokoro (men’s 1500m).
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Two members of the team will compete in swimming events. Rami Anis, originally from Syria, will compete in the 100m men’s butterfly while Yusra Mardini, also from Syria, will take part in the women’s 200m freestyle.
Yolande Bukasa Mabika and Popole Misenga, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, will compete in the 70 kg class of women’s judo and the 90 kg class of men’s judo, respectively.
The other member of the team, Yonas Kinde from Ethiopia, will take part in the men’s marathon.
The team will compete under the Olympic flag at Rio 2016, entering the Opening Ceremony just before host nation Brazil. It was announced on Thursday that Lokonyen, a 23 year-old runner who arrived at a refugee camp in Kenya in 2002, would carry the flag into Maracana Stadium.
On Wednesday, the Refugee Olympic Team was welcomed into Rio’s Athletes’ Village with the Olympic anthem playing in the background.
Just like any other nation competing at the Games, the team will feature support staff – including a Chef de Mission, Isabela Mazão of Brazil, and five coaches.
The IOC is hoping the team gathers attention and support for the many refugees who are currently suffering around the world.
“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,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “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.”