For the first time ever, Rio is hosting a refugee contingent consisting of athletes from across the world who have been displaced. According to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), there are 65 million people who are displaced by war and persecution across the world.
The ten athletes who have formed the contingent are originally from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Yusra Mardini from Syria will complete in swimming along with Rami Anis, a Syrian as well. Yiech Pur Biel, Paulo Amotun Lokoro, Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, James Nyang Chiengjiek, and Rose Nathike Lokonyen are from South Sudan and will be completing in athletic events. Lokonyen is the flag bearer for the contingent. Yolande Bukasa Mabika and Popole Misenga, originally from the DRC are judokas. Yonas Kinde, an Ethiopia, is a runner.
The fundamental principles of Olympism, also called the philosophy of the Games, reads, “The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”
Swimmer Yusra Mardini has a heroic story; she dragged a sinking boat with Syrian refugees for over three hours to help reach land. The boat, which was travelling through the Aegean Sea had 20 people on-board when its capacity was 6. After crossing four countries to enter Germany, her dreams of competing in the Olympics have come true. Regarding the refugee team, the 18-year-old says, “We are still humans.” She will compete in the women’s 100-metre butterfly and freestyle heats.
The refugee team has already won the hearts of people across the world. Whether they fare well in the Games or not, they will forever be remembered from their grit, courage and bravery.