The first ever team of refugees will compete at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games under the Olympic flag, announced the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday.
The team consists of 12 officials and 10 members: five athletes from South Sudan, two from Syria, two from Democratic Republic of Congo and one from Ethiopia.
This a move to highlight the plight of refugees in the world. The Olympic anthem will be played in their honour, the Olympic flag will lead them into the stadium, said IOC President Thomas Bach.
These refugee athletes have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem. The invention of this refugee team is to give them a home in the Olympic village together with all the athletes around the world.
The athletes, six men and four women, will compete in the sports of swimming, judo and athletics.
The team will be housed in the athletes’ village along with all other national teams and will enter the stadium as the penultimate team at the opening ceremony, ahead of the host nation.
They include swimmer Yusra Mardini from Syria who trains in Germany, South Sudanese middle-distance runner Rose Nathike Lokonyen, living in a refugee camp in Kenya, and democratic Republic of Congo judoka Yolande Bukasa Mabika, training in Brazil.
Bach concluded that:
It can send a symbol of hope for all refugees in the world and can send a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society.
(With inputs from Reuters)