Driven from their home countries by conflict and war, the first ever Refugee Olympic Team walked in unison behind the Olympic flag at the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Games.
Prior to the Games, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach had announced that up to ten refugees would be chosen to compete at the Olympics in Brazil in 2016 because of the ‘worldwide refugee crisis.’ He declared, “refugees have the right to be treated as normal citizens”.
Making sporting history, the refugee athletes were greeted at the Opening Ceremony by a standing ovation and roaring cheers from an appreciative crowd. Among the audience was United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who was seen enthusiastically applauding the Refugee Olympic Team.
A striking symbol of triumph over adversity, the members of the Refugee Olympic Team were made up of ten athletes displaced from four countries. Among the team were two swimmers, two judokas, a marathon runner and five medium-distance runners.
The team’s stories of courage and determination caught the imagination of fellow athletes, celebrities and sports fans from across the world, all in support of #TeamRefugees. The Refugee Olympic Team was a historic first, underscoring the humanity and spirit of true sportsmanship.