Rio 2106 Opening Ceremony: First Ever Refugee Team Gets Biggest Cheer Of The Night

'You are sending a message of hope to all the many millions of refugees'.

06/08/2016 03:32 | Updated 06 August 2016

They have no home, no flag, and no anthem. But the first team of refugees ever to compete in the Olympics received a rapturous response from at the Rio opening ceremony

Officially called the Refugee Olympic Team, ten athletes were selected by the International Olympic Committee based on sporting prowess, verified refugee status, and personal background.

David Gray / Reuters

They hail from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Democratic Republic of Congo, some of the most troubled parts of the world. And their personal struggles were recognised by thousands in the Maracana stadium - as the United Nations video shows.

”We want to send a message to the world that these refugee athletes, like all refugees, can be an enrichment,” said IOC President, Thomas Bach, ahead of the Games. “They are a fantastic expression of the Olympic spirit.”

In a stirring address, he later said to the crowd:

“Dear refugee athletes. You are sending a message of hope to all the many millions of refugees around the globe. You had to flee from your homes because of violence, hunger or just because you were different.

“Now with your great talent and human spirit you are making a great contribution to society. In this Olympic world, we do not just tolerate diversity. In this Olympic world, we welcome you as an enrichment to our unity in diversity.”


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