These Are the Refugee Athletes14th Aug 2016 |
One of the more touching moments in the opening ceremony was when the team of refugee athletes entered the Maracanã Stadium under the Olympic banner. Ten athletes from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia and DR Congo has been chosen by the International Olympic Committee to constitute a team of their own. This has been done to put the spotlight on the international refugee crisis that we see in the world today and a way to show the solidarity from the world of sports.
Six of the ten – four men and two women – will compete in athletics. From the rest of them, two will compete in swimming and two in judo. One of them is 18-years-old Yusra Mardini from Syria. She fled the war torn country in a rubber boat together with her sister. They had to hold on to the boat with one hand and swim towards shore for hours in order to reach land in Greece. It’s in a way quite fitting that she will compete in swimming.
The flag bearer was Rose Lokonyen from South Sudan. She lives and trains in Kenya at the moment, and we will see her compete at 1500m for women. Actually, five of the ten participants are from South Sudan. Another one of them is Yech Biel. After spending ten years in the world’s largest refugee camp, Kakuma in Kenya, he will now compete at 800m for men.
The two participants from DR Congo will compete in judo. They escaped captivity together when they were in Brazil to compete at a judo championship in 2013. They were locked in their hotel room for two days without food or water in Brazil, and in Congo it was routine to lock them in cages when they didn’t perform as well as the coach wanted them to.