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Team of 10 Refugee Athletes to Compete in Rio Olympics

  • VOA News

FILE - Fireworks explode behind the Olympic rings during their inauguration at the Madureira Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 20, 2015.

FILE - Fireworks explode behind the Olympic rings during their inauguration at the Madureira Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 20, 2015.

Ten refugee athletes from Africa and the Middle East will compete as a team in the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach announced choices for the first Refugee Olympic Team at the close of a three-day IOC board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Bach said Olympics officials are hopeful that the refugee team will represent displaced people throughout the world. They will, he added, "send a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society."

Athletes from the refugee team will march in the ceremonial parade of competitors from more than 200 countries when the games open August 5. The IOC said they would walk just ahead of the huge team from Brazil, which as the host nation always marches last.

The Olympic flag will lead the refugees and the Olympic anthem will be played in their honor, the IOC president said.

"These refugee athletes have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem," Bach said, but they will have a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes competing in Rio.

The refugee team is made up of five athletes from South Sudan, two from Syria, two from the Democratic Republic of Congo and one from Ethiopia — six men and four women — who will compete in track and field, swimming and judo.

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