Olympic Honour for Refugees: Rio Flame Stops at UN Camp 

The Olympic torch will be making its way to Rio after travelling across the world.

1 min read
Syrian refugee Ibrahim Al-Hussein, 27 receives the Olympic torch. (Photo: AP)

If they had a home, refugees would belong to the world’s 24th most populous nation, just behind Italy. On Tuesday, there were honoured as members of the Olympic family.

The Olympic flame, on a 106-day journey from the game’s ancient birthplace in southern Greece to Rio de Janeiro, made a symbolic stop at a United Nations-run refugee camp in Athens. The torch was carried by Syrian refugee Ibrahim Al-Hussein.

The 27-year-old ran with a prosthetic limb fitted below his right knee and said he was thrilled to get the invitation.

“This is such an honour for me. This is for every Syrian and ever Arab who has gone through so much,” Al-Hussein said afterwards, following chaotic scenes at the camp as he was surrounded by cameramen and refugees using smartphones to take photos and selfies.

Katerina Kitidi, from the U.N. refugee agency in Greece, welcomed Bach’s initiative.

“With a staggering 60 million people living in displacement around the world, such a strong symbolic gesture aims to show solidarity to those fleeing conflict and persecution,” she told the AP.

The Rio flame was lit in Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the ancient Games in southern Greece, last week. It arrives in Brazil on May 3, and will be relayed across the vast country by about 12,000 torchbearers before the opening ceremony at Rio’s Maracana Stadium.

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