The 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro have at least one never-before-seen quality: For the first time in Olympics history, a Refugee Team is in the competition. The team is made up of ten athletes that were chosen from 43 candidates around the world, all of whom who were forced to leave their home countries.
The athletes on the 2016 Refugee Team, who were named by the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee, were born in Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo before they were forced to leave. National Olympic Committees around the world identified refugee athletes that had the potential to compete in the Olympics, and the Olympic Solidarity arm of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gave funds to these athletes as they prepared to qualify. This is part of the IOC's pledge to aid elite athletes affected by the world's refugee crisis.
The team is represented by the Olympic flag, and mainly supported by the IOC. As originally published on the Olympics website, IOC President Thomas Bach said, "These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem. We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes of the word. The Olympic anthem will be played in their honour and the Olympic flag will lead them into the Olympic Stadium. 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. It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society. These refugee athletes will show the world that despite the unimaginable tragedies that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talent, skills and strength of the human spirit." Watch the video below to get more about this inspiring story.