Diversity at the 2016 Rio Olympics

By: Liza Bilich

The 2016 Olympics are coming up and all eyes will be on a certain team. The ROT, or the Refugee Olympic Team, will compete in Rio de Janeiro.

The 10 competing athletes are refugees and will represent four countries: South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria and Ethiopia. The six males and four females will participate in swimming, running and judo.

In hopes of bringing attention to the refugee crisis, the International Olympic Committee created this team.

“These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem. We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village with all the other athletes of the world,” said Thomas Bach, IOC President, to Olympics.com.

The team will enter the Opening Ceremony on August 5th carrying the Olympic flag and leave the Closing Ceremony on August 21st the same way.

“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,” Bach said to Olympics.com. “It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and an enrichment to society.

The 10 athletes were chosen from 43 total applicants. The ROT will also have a crew of five coaches and five team officials accompanying them. The athletes are:

  • Rami Anis (male): 25, Syria, swimming.
  • Yusra Mardini (female): 18, Syria, swimming.
  • Yolande Bukasa Mabika (female): 28, Democratic Republic of the Congo, judo, -70kg.
  • Popole Misenga (male): 24, Democratic Republic of the Congo, judo, 90kg.
  • Yiech Pur Biel (male): 21, South Sudan, running 800m.
  • James Nyang Chiengjiek (male): 28, South Sudan, running 400m.
  • Yonas Kinde (male): 36, Ethiopia, running marathon.
  • Anjelina Nada Lohalith (female): 21, South Sudan, running 1500m
  • Rose Nathike Lokonyen (female): 23, South Sudan, running 800m.
  • Paulo Amotun Lokoro (male): 24, South Sudan, running 1500m.

Refugees even participated in carrying the Olympic Torch. One Syrian refugee, Ibrahim al-Hussein, carried the torch through the Eleonas camp in Athens, Greece, and another, Hanan Dacka, just 12 years old, carried the torch on its first relay in Brazil.

“By carrying the Olympic Torch, people from all over the world will know that refugees are real people, and that we can do positive things,” Dacka said to aljazeera.com.

Their participation in the Olympics is a tribute to the courage and perseverance of all refugees in overcoming adversity and building a better future for themselves and their families,” said Filipo Grandi, UN High Commissioner of Refugees, to aljazeera.com.