With the United Nations estimating 21 million refugees in the world, the displaced population is significant enough that the International Olympic Committee will allow a group of ten refugees to stand as their own team. And we think it’s awesome.
The new team will participate in the parade of nations during this Friday’s opening ceremony. The ceremony will also pay tribute to the world’s displaced millions.
The team consists of ten athletes—two swimmers from Syria, two judo competitors from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a long-distance runner from Ethiopia and five middle-distance runners from South Sudan—who have all fled war in their countries.
Yusra Mardini, a swimmer who actually pulled the boat she escaped Syria on to safety, told USA Today:
A lot of things happened in our lives and it was really bad. But life will not stop for you, your pain, your problems. At some point, you have to move on. …
A lot of people are (expecting) a lot from us. A lot of people have hope in us and we can’t let them down.