Cheer on the first-ever refugee Olympic team
Tonight, when millions of people tune into the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, they’ll see a team march into the stadium with no nation and no flag.
For the first time in the history of the Olympics, 10 refugees are competing without a national team. The unprecedented team is a reflection of the global refugee crisis, with more people displaced by violence and persecution than at any time since World War II. It’s also an opportunity to help shape how the public thinks of refugees – and how governments treat them.
To stand in solidarity with them, a group of refugees and supporters came together to build “The Refugee Nation,” a project conceived to support the team and the 20 million refugees around the world they symbolize. Amnesty International is supporting this project and is also a partner in “Team Refugees,” an initiative of a broad coalition of groups, including UNICEF, Sesame Street, and Save the Children, to rally public support for the refugee athletes – and for refugees around the world.
The Refugee Olympic Team (ROA) was set up by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in recognition of the worldwide refugee crisis. The team is due to carry the official Olympic flag when they march behind host team Brazil at the Opening Ceremony.
Yara Said, an artist and Syrian refugee currently living in The Netherlands, designed a black and orange flag for the team as part of The Refugee Nation, which aims to highlight human rights issues surrounding the global refugee crisis and show extra support for the 10 athletes.
“Black and Orange is a symbol of solidarity with these brave souls who had to wear life vests to cross the sea to look for safety. I also had to wear one; which is why I identify with these colors and these people,” said Yara Said.
In addition, Moutaz Arian, a composer and Syrian refugee now living in Istanbul, has written an anthem for the athletes to stand to.
“I want to make music not just for Kurds or Arabs, but for the whole world,” said Moutaz Arian, who had been studying music at the University of Damascus but decided he had no choice but to flee his country after being threatened with conscription into the Syrian army.
Amnesty International is calling for greater responsibility sharing in the response to the global refugee crisis. The vast majority of refugees are hosted in low and middle income countries, while many of the world’s wealthiest nations host the fewest and do the least, a deeply unfair system which undermines the human rights of refugees.
We've put forward five concrete proposals to achieve responsibility sharing.
Amnesty International is also calling on the public to show support for refugee rights by taking this pledge.
The Refugee Olympic team will be represented by:
- Rami Anis (M): Country of origin – Syria; host National Olympic Committee (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
Together, we’re honoring these 10 brave athletes who have overcome tremendous obstacles. We’re showing refugees around the world that they are welcome. We’re galvanizing public support for the safety and dignity of all refugees. And we are demanding that governments do their part to help address the refugee crisis.
While we cheer on the refugee Olympians, Amnesty will continue shining a light on human rights abuses in Brazil. We will not allow the human rights of anyone be disregarded—from the refugees struggling to find safety around the world, to the families living in favelas in Rio.
3 ways you can tell the world human rights have no borders:
1. SHARE: Share this blog and follow #TeamRefugee stories on social media!
2. PLEDGE: Take the Refugees Welcome Here! Pledge
3. TAKE ACTION: End police violence at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games