A Team of Refugees

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The Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have been getting a lot of negative press in the last few months. People have been urging the IOC to call off the Games, but the IOC has decided to let the Games go on. In less than 2 weeks, I will be in Rio ready to volunteer, meet people from all over the world, and watch athletes overcome the odds to proudly represent themselves and their countries.

In addition to the spectators, volunteers, staff, and athletes who are there to participate under their national flags, Rio 2016 will have a Refugee Olympic Team.

Ten refugee athletes who had to flee their home countries will compete under the Olympic flag. If you watch the Opening Ceremony, look for them marching under the Olympic flag right before Brazil at the end of the Parade of Nations.

Created as an Olympic response to the worldwide refugee crisis, the IOC formed this team by first asking National Olympic Committees (NOCs) around the world to identify refugee athletes with the potentials to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Forty-three candidates were identified, and these ten athletes were selected.

  • Rami Anis (M): Country of origin – Syria; sport – swimming; host NOC – Belgium
  • Yiech Pur Biel (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; sport – athletics, 800m; host NOC – Kenya
  • James Nyang Chiengjiek (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; sport – athletics, 400m; host NOC – Kenya
  • Yonas Kinde (M): Country of origin – Ethiopia; sport – athletics, marathon; host NOC – Luxembourg
  • Anjelina Nada Lohalith (F): Country of origin – South Sudan; sport – athletics, 1500m; host NOC – Kenya
  • Rose Nathike Lokonyen (F): Country of origin – South Sudan; sport – athletics, 800m; host NOC – Kenya
  • Paulo Amotun Lokoro (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; sport – athletics, 1500m; host NOC – Kenya
  • Yolande Bukasa Mabika (F): Country of origin – Democratic Republic of the Congo; sport – judo, -70kg; host NOC – Brazil
  • Yusra Mardini (F): Country of origin – Syria; sport – swimming; host NOC – Germany
  • Popole Misenga (M): Country of origin – Democratic Republic of the Congo; sport – judo, -90k; host NOC – Brazil

 

The video above doesn’t work on this blog post, but if you click the play arrow and then you click “Watch on YouTube,” you’ll be able to watch it on YouTube.

The IOC’s Olympic Solidarity program will provide funding for these athletes to cover their preparation, travel, and other expenses for the Olympic Games. The IOC will continue to support the refugee athletes after the Olympics.

Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, said, “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 word. The Olympic anthem will be played in their honor and the Olympic flag will lead them into the Olympic 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. It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society. These refugee athletes will show the world that despite the unimaginable tragedies that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talent, skills and strength of the human spirit.”

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IOC President Thomas Bach with the Olympic flag

For faster updates while I’m at the Olympics, follow the Olympics of Blogs on Instagram @theolympicsofblogs.

The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

Today is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, and it’s also the 120th anniversary of the first modern Olympic Games held in Athens, Greece, in 1896!

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The United Nations created this holiday to celebrate the power of sport in sustainable process and change. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, said, “Sport has become a world language, a common denominator that breaks down all the wall, all the barriers. It is a worldwide industry whose practices can have widespread impact. Most of all, it is a powerful tool for progress and for development.”

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Started in 2014, the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace is the annual celebration of what the International Olympic Committee, National and International Sports Federation, sports clubs, governmental and non-governmental organizations, neighborhood associations and everything else is doing to use sport to help create social change.

To celebrate the day, artist Maud Bernos created the “Carton Blanc” or “White Card” project. Referees give players red cards if they are too violent (it’s the most serious offense a player can commit), so a white card symbolizes peace. It’s a worldwide project, so everyone is encouraged to participate. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Take a photo of yourself holding a white card.
  2. Post the photo on social media with the status, “Post your #WhiteCard to play for peace on April 6! @peaceandsport #IDSDP #sport4abetterworld”

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Have fun celebrating sport today!

Upcoming Posts

Hi Readers!

I haven’t posted on my blog in awhile, so I thought I would write a blog post about what I’ve been working on and what to expect for upcoming blog posts.

United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW):

For the past two weeks, I have been at the UN’s CSW. As a part of a class I took this semester, everyone in the class received passes to attend this conference. In addition to other sessions, I was able to go to three really interesting ones on sports. They were:

  • “Girls’ and Women’s Empowerment Embodied: Key Ingredients for Sustainable Development Goals” hosted by American College of Sports Medicine, International Working Group on Women and Sport, Safe4Athletes, Women’s Sport Foundation, and WomenSport International
  • “2030 Agenda – The Contribution of Sport to Achieve Gender Equality and End Violence Against Women and Girls” hosted by Brazil, UN Women, and the International Olympic Committee
  • “A Sustainable Sporting Culture Based on Gender Equality: Achieving Goal 5” hosted by Botswana, International Working Group on Women and Sport, Association of Sport for All, WomenSport International, and Women’s Sport Foundation

Expect blog posts about these panels and possible interviews with the panelists, organization founders, or athletes involved in them!

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Found an Olympic Torch at the UN!

Interviews:

I have been working really hard to interview some very important people in the Olympic Movement. I don’t want to share who they are because I’m still working on interviewing the people.

Guest Blogger:

My friend Lili (the awesome blogger at http://lilisreflections.blogspot.com) has been studying abroad in London this semester, and she was able to visit the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland! I asked her to write a post on it, and she said yes!

General Awesome Information about the Olympic Movement:

I am going to write blog posts about various interesting and exciting information I learn about the Olympic Movement, such as the Canadian Olympic Committee’s #OneTeam Campaign and the International Olympic Committee’s exciting decision to have a team of refugees at the Olympics in Rio!

Upcoming Events:

  • April 6 is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (Don’t know what it is? Come back to my blog on April 6 to learn about it!).
  • April 27 is 100 Days to Rio 2016! There will be an Road to Rio event held in Times Square, and I’ll be there! (My sister and I went to the Road to Sochi event in Times Square. Here’s the link to her article about the event: http://www.mediamikes.com/2014/02/2014-olympics-road-to-sochi-hits-times-square-in-nyc/)

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Those are some of the upcoming posts I have planned! I will definitely try to blog more regularly! 🙂 Hope you enjoy!