The summer Olympic Games in Rio will be the first ever to host a team of refugee athletes

By Macaela Mackenzie
June 06, 2016

The countdown to this summer's Olympic Games in Rio is heating up, and you're beginning to hear more about the inspiring stories behind the world's greatest athletes on their road to greatness. But this year, there's one standout team-in-the-making whose athletes share stories with a common thread: They were all refugees.

Last week the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that ten athletes (including four females) from around the globe will compete for a spot on the Refugee Olympic Team (ROT)-the first team of its kind. They will ultimately represent a symbol of hope for refugees around the world.

As part of the IOC's pledge to help elite athletes around the world affected by the refugee crisis, National Olympic Committees from countries hosting refugees were asked to help identify athletes with the potential to qualify. More than 40 refugee athletes were identified, and they received funding from Olympic Solidarity to help them train to be a part of the team that will compete on the Olympic stage. In addition to athletic ability, nominees had to hold an official refugee status verified by the United Nations. The athletes' personal situations and backgrounds were also taken into consideration. (Get in the spirit and check out these Rio 2016 Olympic Hopefuls Your Need to Start Following On Instagram Now.)

Among the ten refugee athletes to make the official team are four women: Anjaline Nadai Lohalith, a 1500-meter runner from South Sudan; Rose Nathike Lokonyen, a 800-meter runner from South Sudan; Yolande Bukasa Mabika, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who will compete in Judo; and Yusra Mardini, a Syrian refugee who will swim the 100 meter freestyle.

The IOC's decision to include (not to mention, fund) an official team of refugee athletes, helps to draw attention to the magnitude of the global refugee crisis. Watch as the refugee athletes carry the Olympic flag right before the host nation of Brazil at the Opening Ceremony this summer.


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