First-Ever Refugee Team To Compete At Rio Olympics

Christine Rousselle
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Posted: Jun 03, 2016 3:00 PM
First-Ever Refugee Team To Compete At Rio Olympics

A 10-member team of refugees from various national origins will compete at the Rio Olympics as the first-ever all-refugee team. The group will march in to the Opening Ceremonies to the Olympic anthem and will be led by the Olympic flag. The athletes will compete in swimming, athletics, and judo.

Five of the athletes are from South Sudan, two are from Syria, two are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and one is from Ethiopia. The athletes each were forced to flee their homelands.

IOC President Thomas Bach believes that the team would be a "symbol of hope" to all refugees around the world. The refugee team will be treated the same as any other national team and will live in the Olympic Village.

"It can send a symbol of hope for all refugees in the world and can send a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society."

The team will be housed in the athletes' village along with all other national teams and will enter the stadium as the penultimate team at the opening ceremony, ahead of the host nation.

These aren't the first athletes to compete under the Olympic flag instead of a nation. There were four independent athletes in the 2012 London Olympics who were in a similar situation as the members of the refugee team. Additionally, athletes from former Soviet republics competed as the "Unified Team" in the 1992 Winter and Summer Olympics.

It's good that these athletes are given a chance to compete in the Olympics when they otherwise would not be able to. Politics should not interfere with sports.

The Opening Ceremonies of the Rio Olympics will begin on August 5. The games will continue until August 21.