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The announcement of the Refugee Team for the Rio Olympic Games and its Chef de Mission Tegla Loroupe

 

At this years Olympic Games in Rio, history will be made as 10 selected athletes will compete in the first ever Refugee Olympic Team.  Competing under the Olympic flag, the six male and four female athletes will walk into the opening ceremony at the Maracana Stadium ahead of host country Brazil.

Thomas Bach, the current IOC President explained why having a refugee team is so important:

“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 world. The Olympic anthem will be played in their honor and the Olympic flag will lead them into the 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.”

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The 10 Athletes selected for the team are:

• Rami Anis (M): Country of origin – Syria; host NOC – Belgium; sport – swimming

• Yiech Pur Biel (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 800m

• James Nyang Chiengjiek (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 400m

• Yonas Kinde (M): Country of origin – Ethiopia; host NOC – Luxembourg; sport – athletics, marathon

• Anjelina Nada Lohalith (F): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 1500m

• Rose Nathike Lokonyen (F): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 800m

• Paulo Amotun Lokoro (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 1500m

• Yolande Bukasa Mabika (F): Country of origin – Democratic Republic of the Congo; host NOC – Brazil; sport – judo, -70kg

• Yusra Mardini (F): Country of origin – Syria; host NOC – Germany; sport – swimming

• Popole Misenga (M): Country of origin – Democratic Republic of the Congo; host NOC – Brazil; sport – judo, -90kg

 

 

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To further the announcement of the athletes on the team, the Chef de Mission has also been revealed, former Marathon World Record Holder Tegla Loroupe.

Tegla is an IAAF (International Amateur Athletics Federation) Ambassador and a retired marathon runner from Kenya.  Having achieved huge success in her own athletics career, Tegla went on to establish the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation in  2003.   The foundation is a Peace and Development organization that promotes peaceful co-existence and socio-economic development of poor and marginalized individuals and communities in Northern Kenya and the Greater Horn of Africa Region.

 

Back in March 2016 at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, where over 18,000 refugees are held, Tegla commented about her experience of working with some of the then potential Olympians.

“This is something special,” she said. “Everyone can be a refugee, now they have this incredible opportunity to stand out. They want to be ambassadors.”

 

The appointment of Tegla Loroupe makes a huge statement to the World about equality in sport, both for the refugees themselves and for gender equality.  Teal was a role model for African women as became the first woman from an African Nation to win the New York Marathon, followed by a host of World Championship medals and world records.

“When I won there so many women that say, ‘Tegla we know you are struggle, we translate in real life in our women’.

 

Now Tegla can continue her inspiring legacy as she leads the first ever Refugee Team to the Olympic Games.

 

  1. Jill S

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    This is a fantastic story and maybe the only story shining through all the corruption and doping involved with the Games at the moment.

  2. Jane Carter

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    A truly inspiring initiative which will show the world what refugees have to offer. Refugees are people just like all of us who have the misfortune to have had to flee their homeland. They deserve to be welcomed into our safe places with open arms but instead they are demonised, herded into crowded camps, teargassed and feared. This team will show the rest of the world that there is another way

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