Cultures

There’s a new Olympic team you’ve never heard of

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The number of refugees in countries around the world has reached an incredible high: more than 21 million, as the United Nations estimated last year. With the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio quickly approaching, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach decided to bring this issue to light in the best way possible: a new olympic team.

Refugee team

Image: UNHCR.org

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) selected a group of ten refugees from various countries such as South Sudan, Syria, Congo and Ethiopia to compete in the games. The brand new Olympic Refugee Team will appear at the opening ceremonies carrying the Olympic Flag.

There has been talk of this in the past, since the refugee problem has become so great. Athletes have competed independently many times before, either because their country was banned from the Olympics or it didn’t have a national team. Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, made the final decision back in 2015 to include an entire team including those unfortunate enough to lack a home country to be represented by. He then chose countries and asked them to help find the best athletes to complete the new Olympic team.

The roster includes: two swimmers from Syria (Yusra Mardini and Rami Anis), two Congolese judokas who were abandoned by their coach (Popole Misenga and Yolande Mabika), a marathoner from Ethiopia (Yonas Kinde), and five long distance runners from South Sudan (Yiech Pur Biel, James Nyang Chiengjiek, Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, Rose Nathike Lokonyen and Paulo Amotun Lokoro).

Isn’t this what the Olympics are all about? The games bring the world together in celebration of every color, nationality, religion—and now refugees can be included. Love wins.

Lauren is a part-time editorial and graphic contributor at 301 Digital Media who has a strange obsession with cats and a love for Drake that will never be reciprocated. Follow her on Instagram: @lpetermeyer

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