The first ever refugee team has been unveiled by the Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to compete at Rio 2016 under the Olympic banner.
The team of refugees comprising of 10 members- five from South Sudan, two from Syria, two from DR Congo and one from Ethiopia, will be treated at the Olympic Games like all the other teams taking part in the competition.
The six men and four women will compete in judo, swimming and athletics.
“Having no national team to belong to, having no flag to march behind, having no national anthem to be played, these refugee athletes will be welcomed to the Olympic Games with the Olympic flag and with the Olympic Anthem.
“They will have a home together with all the other 11,000 athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees in the Olympic Village,” said IOC President Thomas Bach in a statement.
The team includes a South Sudanese middle-distance runner Rose Nathike Lokonyen who is living in a refugee camp in Kenya, swimmer Yusra Mardini from Syria, who trains in Germany, and DR Congo judoka Yolande Bukasa Mabika, who trains in Brazil.
They will march behind the Olympic flag before host team Brazil at the Opening Ceremony.
“By welcoming the team of Refugee Olympic Athletes to the Olympic Games Rio 2016, we want to send a message of hope for all refugees in our world,” Bach added.
Apart from creating the refugee team, following the approval of Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC’s strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, and in light of the current global refugee crisis, the IOC created a special fund of $2 million to develop relief projects through sport in collaboration with NOCs around the world.
The plight of refugees fleeing from conflict as well as economic migrants escaping devastating poverty in their own nations has attracted divided attention from Europe. A large number of new arrivals is stretching the European Union's asylum system.
The Olympics are set to start from 5-21 August.
By establishing the team, the IOC has attracted the world’s attention to the predicament of refugees.
“They will show to the world that despite the unimaginable tragedies they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through talent, skills and the strength of human spirit,” IOC said.