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Rio to Say Olá to Olympic Refugee Team

Rio to Say Olá to Olympic Refugee Team -

I LOVE the Olympics. I’m not one for patriotism or any of that but every few years there’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting in front of my TV and watching the countries come together to absolutely demolish each other in sport. While America isn’t great at everything as they’d like to believe, I’m pretty sure we’ve got men’s swimming on lock this year thanks to the King, Fin Michael Phelps. I’ve also been keeping an eye on our gymnastics team and while they’re no Fab 5, I’m feeling pretty confident.

Let these games be the games that unite the global community.

But something even greater than the return of Michael Phelps will be occurring this year in Rio. For the first time in Olympic history, there will be a team competing that represents no single country at all but a slew of countries. This year we will be seeing a team composed completely of displaced refugees. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Donald Drumpf.

The team’s official name is Refugee Olympic Team and as they have no official flag to march behind at the opening ceremonies, they have been given the honor of marching behind the Olympic flag before the entrance of host team Brazil. The athletes will have everything that a traditional national team will have to ensure that the needs of every athlete are met. They’ll also be hosted at the Olympic Village in Rio alongside athletes from other teams around the world.

The team consists of 10 athletes whose names will not only go down in history, but will go down on a list below.

Rami AnisSyria, swimming.

Yiech Pur BielSouth Sudan, athletics 800 meter.

James Nyang ChiengjiekSouth Sudan, athletics 400 meter.

Yonas KindeEthiopia, athletics marathon.

Anjelina Nada LohalithSouth Sudan, athletics 1500 meter.

Rose Nathike LokonyenSouth Sudan, athletics 800 meter.

Paulo Amotun LokoroSouth Sudan, athletics 1500 meter.

Yolande Bukasa MabikaDemocratic Republic of the Congo,  judo -70kg.

Yusra MardiniSyria, swimming.

Popole MisengaDemocratic Republic of the Congo, judo -90kg.

Now, in case you are unsure, ‘athletics’ refers mostly to track and field events. So from the looks of it, ROT will have a strong advantage when those events occur.

While this does not change the refugee crisis, nor will it restore these athletes to their home countries – this is still an enormous step forward. Now the entire world must face a reality they had not previously done. They must see refugees as living, breathing human beings. Not just any regular schmegular degular human being, but top ranked athletes. I mean, you don’t just get to the Olympics because you’ve got a pretty face.

For the first time in Olympic history, there will be a team competing that represents no single country at all but a slew of countries.

These people are the best of the best at what they do and despite being displaced, they are still the best. Now everyone will see. Now the refugee story will be full frontal and broadcasted globally. 206 nations will be competing in Rio this year. Each of those nations will be televising or streaming the Olympic events and you bet your bottom dollar that there will be an enormous spotlight on these 10 competitors. This is the world’s chance to act as if we’ve still got some humanity. An amazing level of unity and camaraderie can come from these games, we only need to seize the moment.

I am so excited to watch the Olympics this year and cheer on team USA. As flawed as this country is, I want those gold medals. Perhaps you are also disenchanted with your home country and don’t plan on cheering them on this year. Instead, cheer on the Refugee Olympic Team. Take up their banner, take up their cause, and be an agent for change. Sports brings people together all the time. Let these games be the games that unite the global community.

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