Besides the FIFA World Cup, no other event brings the world together like the Olympic games.
Yet, this year’s Olympic games has been marred by a lot of negative news that have in their ways soiled the Olympic spirit of togetherness around the world.
From the fears of Zika in Brazil to the political and economic insecurity in the host country to the big doping scandal surrounding the Russian athletes, there is no doubt that Rio 2016 feels somewhat different.
However, there’s a silver lining with the Refugee Olympic team. The Refugee Olympic team which consists of racially diverse refugees brings to the fore the spirit of unity and realization that we are all one despite our race and hardships.
Refugee Olympic Team–different countries united under the Olympic flag
“We don’t have the same language. We’re all from different countries. But the Olympic flag united us together, and now we are representing 60 million [people] around the world,” said swimmer and Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini. “We want to show everyone that we can do anything. Good athletes. Good people.”
The Refugee Olympic team consist of 10 refugees performing in track events, swimming, and Judo. They are :
Yonas Kinde: Fearing for his life, he fled Ethiopia to Luxembourg. He will be competing in the men’s marathon.
Yusra Mardini fled Syria as the war heightened. She, as well as three others, had to swim from Turkey to Greece in order to save their lives and 20 others on a dinghy which had stopped working. She will be swimming in the women’s 100 m butterfly and 100m freestyle.
James Chiengjiek fled South Sudan at the age of 13. After his father died, he feared he will be taken as a child soldier, He escaped to Kenya and will participate in the men’s 400 meters.
Rami Anis, like Yusra, had to flee the Syrian war from his home in Aleppo to Greece and eventually to Belgium. The swimmer will compete in the men’s 100m butterfly.
Popole Misenga was only a child when he escaped from the Democratic Republic of Congo after his mother was murdered. He will compete in Judo.
Yolande Mabika – Mabika like Misenga escaped the DRC and applied for Asylum during the 2013 World Judo Championship in Brazil after their coaches took their money, passports and abused them. They were both granted refugee status in 2014.
Yiech Pur Biel who fled the civil war in South Sudan will compete as a runner in the men’s 800m.
Rose Nathike Lokoyen who, like Biel fled the South Sudan crisis will be competing in the women’s 800m race in Rio.
Paulo Amotun Lokoro, the former cattle herder fled South Sudanese violence as well and will compete in the men’s 1500 meter race.
Anjelina Lohalith fled the South Sudanese war with her aunt. She will be competing in the women’s 1,500 m race.