Escaping wars and terror, refugees land the 2016 Rio Olympics!
When youngsters around the world were having fun time with friends and video games, a bunch of young refugees were forced to leave their childhood, dreams, families, home and happiness back in their war-struck home-countries. Among these refugees, there were some who weren’t ready to give up on their passion for sports and were ready to slog. And now….Yes…good days have come and their hard work is being paid off. They are now the heroes of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) picked 10 refugee athletes from a pool of 43 strong refugee players from across the world to form the first Olympic Refugee Team. The motive of this initiative is to address the world refugee crisis and inspire and support the victims of war and terror. The team members represent neither their home-countries nor host countries. They will play under the Olympic flag, boasting the IOC country code ROA, which stands for Refugee Olympic Athletes. The Olympic anthem will be played on their entrance. Sportswear for the team is being sponsored by the IOC. The team is staying at the Olympic Village and is being provided with coaches, medical staff and other officers.
“The first Refugee Olympic team represents not only the struggles of refugees, but also the courage of war survivors”
There are two players from Syria, Yusra Mardini and Rami Anis, both swimmers. Mardini is already famous for having saved life of refugees who were on a boat with her while trying to flee from Turkey to Greece. The motor of the overloaded boat (with 20 people) had stopped working and that’s when Mardini, her sister, and two more people got into the sea to push the boat for 3 hours! South Sudanese refugees include runners Anjaline Nadai Lohalith, Yiech Pur Biel, James Nyang Chiengjiek , Rose Nathike Lokonyen, and Paulo Amotun Lokoro. Lohalith didn’t even know if ‘Rio’ was a person or a country unless she was selected for the Rio Olympics. She calls it a dream. For Chiengjiek, Rio Olympics is not just a race for winning gold medals; it’s a medium to spread peace. Refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo are judokas Yolande Mabika and Popole Misenga. The last member of the refugee Olympic team is Ethiopian track and field athlete Yonas Kinde. Each athlete has a story to share with and inspire people.
The introduction of this new team shows that the world is willing to accept refugees with all the love and support. When the first refugee team landed the Olympic Village on 3rd August 2016, there was a grand welcome ceremony with lots of dance and music. Other Olympians and media too gathered to celebrate the success stories of these stars.
With eyes full of dreams and chest full of valour, these super-talented refugee athletes are bidding their bitter past goodbye. Because of their perseverance and courage, they have already won millions of hearts.