First ever Olympic refugee team gets showered with praise at the Opening Ceremony
They’ve come a long way and the Olympics crowd knows it.
Five months after the creation of the Refugee Olympic Team a group made up entirely of refugees without the opportunity to compete for a specific country they made their entry into Maracan Stadium for the Opening Ceremony.
The athletes entered to a standing ovation, wearing tan pants, blue blazers and waving a flag bearing the Olympic logo, under which they will compete.
The Olympians were given the honor of entering second to last, right before the host country of Brazil rolled into the stadium.
Rose Lokonyen Nathike, who will run in the women’s 800 meters, led her team, waving the Olympic flag.
“Ten refugee athletes will act as a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide and bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis when they take part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016 this summer,” the International Olympic Committee said in a release announcing the formation of the team.
The athletes were chosen to compete in the games from the 43 who initially sought qualifications.
These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem,” IOC President Thomas Bach said at the team’s announcement.
We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes of the word… This will be a symbol of hope for all the refugees in our world, and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis.”
The refugee team is made up of members from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They will compete in 12 different events in three sports: Athletics (running), Swimming and Judo.
Bach also welcomed the team in his opening remarks after the parade of countries entered the stadium.
“In this Olympic world, we do not just tolerate diversity,” Bach said. “In this Olympic world, we welcome you as an enrichment as our unity in diversity. “
Not only did the team receive a warm response from those in the stadium, viewers at home, across the world also showered the athletes with praise.