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A ‘Symbol Of Hope’: 10 Athletes Named as First Olympic Refugee Team

By - June 9, 2016
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Photo credit: Felipe Dana

They will form a team unlike any other that has competed in the Olympic Game before. The 10 refugee athletes set to compete at Rio 2016 were announced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday (3 June), giving hope to people displaced by war and social unrest all over the world.

Five runners from South Sudan, two swimmers from Syria, two judokas from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a marathon runner from Ethiopia will march under the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony on 5 August at the Maracanã Stadium.

IOC president Thomas Bach said their inclusion would bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis and send a message to the world.

“It is a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society,” he said.

Olympics Press

Olympics Press

“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.”

Popole Misenga
Photo credit: Felipe Dana

When asked about their involvement in the team, Yolande Bukasa Mabika and Popole Misenga who are both competing in the sports of Judo said:

“I cannot fight for my country. I will fight for the Olympics. I will fight for all refugees in the world, to defend all refugees in the world,” Mabika said, adding that she hopes the visibility she gains from Olympic competition will help her reconnect with her family.

“If I participated in the Olympics, I think it would change my life.”

“I represent everyone,” Misenga said. “I’ll get a medal for all refugees.”

The 10 athletes will stay at the Olympic Village, where they will receive an official welcome, just like any other national team. The IOC will provide a full support group to provide all their logistical, technical and coaching needs.

Olympics Logo

Here is a list of the athletes chosen as part of this team:

Rami Anis (male): Country of origin – Syria; host NOC – Belgium; sport – swimming

Yiech Pur Biel (male): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, (800m)

James Nyang Chiengjiek (male): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics (400m)

Yonas Kinde (male): Country of origin – Ethiopia; host NOC – Luxembourg; sport – athletics (marathon)

Anjelina Nada Lohalith (female): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics (1500m)

Rose Nathike Lokonyen (female): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics (800m)

Paulo Amotun Lokoro (male): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics (1500m)

Yolande Bukasa Mabika (female): Country of origin – Democratic Republic of the Congo; host NOC – Brazil; sport – judo, (70kg)

Yusra Mardini (female): Country of origin – Syria; host NOC – Germany; sport – swimming

Popole Misenga (male): Country of origin – Democratic Republic of the Congo; host NOC – Brazil; sport – judo (-90kg)

CLICK HERE FOR A BIOGRAPHY LINK FOR EACH ATHLETE

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