Two Syrian swimmers, an Ethiopian marathoner, two Congolese judokas and five South Sudanese middle-distance runners are making history at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. They’re all part of the first Refugee Team, representing 60 million refugees across the world, sadly the highest since World War II.
“When they march into that stadium, there are 60 million people marching right behind them,” says Aaron Sherinian, U.N. Foundation spokesman. “And the world needs to acknowledge those 60 million people.”
The Washington Post makes the powerful point, “Across the board, the 10 athletes said that while they held out hope of competing under the flags of their original or adopted countries, they are proud to represent refugees. The power in their message is that, as athletes, they symbolize dignity. They are reminders that refugees are humans, not statistics. Their presence in the Games promotes empathy but not pity.”