Refugee team receives warm welcome at Olympics opening

GREAT MOMENT. The Refugee Team marches during the opening of the Olympics. Photo by EPA/ESTEBAN BIBA

GREAT MOMENT. The Refugee Team marches during the opening of the Olympics.


MANILA, Philippines – The recently-created team of international refugees marched under the flag of the Olympics in the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Games held at the Maracana Stadium in Brazil on Friday, August 5 (Saturday morning, Manila time).

Created just this year, the Refugee Olympic Team is made up of 10 athletes who will participate in the Olympic Games without competing for a specific country.

The team marched during the opening ceremony dressed in beige pants and blue blazers while waving flags to the crowd in Rio which welcomed them affectionately. The refugees were the second to last team to walk around the stadium, followed by host nation Brazil.

“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 crises. It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society,” IOC President Thomas Bach was quoted saying in the announcement of the refugee team this past June.

A total of 43 refugee athletes sought to qualify for the Olympic Games but only 10 were able to make it, coming from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Here are the refugee athletes who are competing at the Rio Olympics: Rami Anis and Yusra Mardini (swimming); Popole Misenga and Yolande Bukasa Mabika (judo); and Yiech Pur Biel, James Nyang, Chiengjiek, Yonas Kinde, Angelina Nada Lohalith, Rose Nathike Lokonyen, and Paulo Amotun Lokoro (athletics).

Many on Twitter were left pleased by the marching of the Refugee Team during the opening:

The refugee team in the Olympics is the most amazing thing — Mikael Ann Worsham (@MikaelAnnW) August 6, 2016

Standing ovation for the @Olympics refugee team. #Awesome — AsianSocialNetwork (@AsianSocialNet) August 6, 2016

The Olympic Refugee Team made me believe again in the promise of the Olympics amidst some real skepticism. — Erica Mauter (@swirlspice) August 6, 2016