POSTED: June 4th 2016

Worldwide refugee crisis to be showcased at the Rio 2016 Olympics

Copacabana Beach © Rio 2016
Copacabana Beach © Rio 2016

MARISSA FLANDERS (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The Rio 2016 Olympic Games will draw attention to ten refugees athletes who will become a symbol of hope worldwide to other refugees. This will also bring global attention to the refugee crisis that is currently taking place.

The Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) is the first of its kind and the athletes will march under the Olympic flag during the 2016 Opening Ceremony. The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) named the ten athletes to the ROT.

The team will have its own entourage to meet all the athletes' needs, like any other Olympic team. The team's Chef de Mission is Tegla Loroupe (Kenya), former marathon world record-holder and Olympian. The Isabela Mazao (Brazil) will act as the Deputy Chef de Mission as proposed by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). They will also have five other team officials and five coaches.

Athletes on the ROT include:

      ·         Anjelina Nada Lohalith - Athletics, 1500m (South Sudan)

      ·         James Nyang Chiengjiek - Athletics, 400m (South Sudan)

      ·         Paulo Amotun Lokoro - Athletics, 1500m (South Sudan)

      ·         Popole Misenga - Judo, -90kg (The Democratic Republic of the Congo)

      ·         Rami Anis - Swimming (Syria)

      ·         Rose Nathike Lokonyen - Athletics, 800m (South Sudan)

      ·         Yiech Pur Biel - Athletics, 800m (South Sudan)

      ·         Yolande Bukasa Mabika - Judo, -70kg (The Democratic Republic of the Congo)

      ·         Yonas Kinde - Athletics, marathon (Ethiopia)

      ·         Yusra Mardini - Swimming (Syria)

"These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem. 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 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," expressed IOC President, Thomas Bach.

The ten athletes were selected from 43 promising candidates that were initially identified after consulting with International Federations, the UNHCR, National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of their countries of origin, and their host NOCs. Personal background and situation, verified official refugee status by the United Nations, and sporting level were included in the nomination criteria.

The EB approved the following operational aspects surrounding the ROT, earlier this year:

         ·  They will get their own welcome ceremony at the Olympic Village and be housed there.

         ·  The IOC will provide them uniforms.

         ·  The Olympic flag will be raised and the Olympic Anthem will be played for all official representations of the team.

         ·  Preparation, travel, and other participation expenses will be covered by the Olympic     Solidarity and will provide continual support for the team after the 2016 Games.

         ·  Through the use of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) a proper doping control process will be introduced.

         ·  The refugee athletes will continue to receive support from the IOC even after the completion of the Rio Games.  

** MARISSA FLANDERS is a graduate of Saint Leo University with a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Business. She has over four years of writing experience and has a real passion for ice hockey following the Pittsburgh Penguins on her blog 

Keywords · IOC · Olympics · UNHCK · UN · NOCs · International Federations · refugees · Rio 2016

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