Team of Refugee Olympic Athletes Created by the International Olympic Committee
BY: Ezzah Syed/Contributing Writer
This summer, for the first time in history, a team of refugees will compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The name of the team will be Team Refugee Olympic Athletes (ROA) and will consist of two judokas from the Democratic Republic of Congo, two swimmers from Syria, five runners from South Sudan, and a marathoner from Ethiopia.
Just like all other Olympic athletes, Team ROA will get its own welcome ceremony and housing at the Olympic Village.
The team will march behind the Olympic flag before host team, Brazil, at the Opening Ceremony.
“These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem,” International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said in a statement. “We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes of 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,” Bach added.
The IOC president continued to reinforce the committee’s good-will, saying, “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.”
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said in a statement, “Having had their sporting careers interrupted, these high-level refugee athletes will finally have the chance to pursue their dreams. Their participation in the Olympics is a tribute to the courage and perseverance of all refugees in overcoming adversity and building a better future for themselves and their families.”
The International Olympic Committee has demonstrated a commitment to inclusion and humanity over fear and hate. Upholding a sense of global community, IOC President Thomas Bach reminds the world that as global citizens, we have a responsibility to welcome refugees into our communities with open arms.