This summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro has broken tradition, and blurred borders by creating a team that will represent no country in particular. But instead, the unique, ten member team will be representing a large, and still growing, population of our world: refugees.
In June, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the members of a team made up solely of refugees. The team was created to send an international message to all the viewers of the upcoming Olympic games.
“These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem,” said Thomas Bach, IOC president, during the announcement of team. “We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes of the word. The Olympic anthem will be played in their honour 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.”
The team is made up of an Ethiopian athlete (Yonas Kinde), two Syrian athletes (Rami Anis & Yusra Mardini), two athletes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Yolande Bukasa Marika & Popole Misenga), and five South Sudanese athletes (Yiech Pur Biel, James Chiengjiek, Anjelina Nada Lohalith, Rose Nathike Lokonyen, & Paulo Amotun Lokoro).
While the winning medals is the main goal for most teams, the Refugee Olympics Team’s (ROT) goals are a little bit different: they want to change the conversation.
Martini, a Syrian swimmer on the ROT, told Yahoo Sports:
“We don’t have the same language. We’re all from different countries, but the Olympics flag united us together, and now we are representing 60 million [people] around the world. We want to show everyone that we can do anything. Good athletes. Good people.”
Catch your first glimpse of the team during the Parade of Nations that is part of the Open Ceremonies on August 5th, and stay turn through August 21st to watch the Refugee Olympics Team progress through the games.