A team of 10 refugees is set to make Olympic history by being the first team of refugees ever to compete in the Olympic Games.
According to The New Yorker, the team is made up of six men and four women, all of whom have stories of overcoming not only athletic challenges, but challenges of actual survival.
The team is comprised of two swimmers from Syria, two judo competitors from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a marathoner from Ethiopia, and five middle-distance runners from South Sudan.
The 10 participants were selected from a group of 43 refugees by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The opening ceremony in Rio will feature a tribute to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are struggling worldwide.
Thomas Back, the president of the IOC, stated, “These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem. We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village, together with all the athletes of the word. The Olympic anthem will be played in their honor, and the Olympic flag will lead them into the Olympic Stadium. These refugee athletes will show the world that despite the unimaginable tragedies that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talent, skills, and strength of the human spirit.”
Although the refugee Olympians recognize that their circumstances put them at a disadvantage, they know their ability to overcome obstacles is strong.
“A lot of things happened in our lives and it was really bad. But life will not stop for you, your pain, your problems,” said swimmer Yusra Mardini. “At some point, you have to move on. ...A lot of people are (expecting) a lot from us. A lot of people have hope in us and we can’t let them down.”
The refugee team has already been an inspiration to many. Crosswalk.com contributor Whitney Hopler notes that the persevereance of these athletes has a lot to teach us about God.
The opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio takes place Friday, August 5.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: August 4, 2016
Veronica Neffinger wrote her first poem at age seven and went on to study English in college, focusing on 18th century literature. When she is not listening to baseball games, enjoying the outdoors, or reading, she can be found mostly in Richmond, VA writing primarily about nature, nostalgia, faith, family, and Jane Austen.