Refugee Olympic Team Receives Warm Embrace at Rio Opening Ceremony | NBC 10 Philadelphia
2016 Rio Olympic Games

2016 Rio Olympic Games

Watch All the Action from the Rio Games Live on NBC

Refugee Olympic Team Receives Warm Embrace at Rio Opening Ceremony

The first team of its kind has 10 members

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Buda Mendes/Getty Images
    Members of the Refugee Olympic Team take part in the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maracana Stadium on Aug. 5, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    They've been called by some the heart and soul of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

    The first-ever Refugee Olympic Team of 10 athletes, displaced from Syria, South Sudan, Congo and Ethiopia, entered the arena to loud applause just before the host Brazilian contingent. Their flag-bearer, Rose Nathike Lokonyen, fled war in South Sudan and ran her first race in a refugee camp in northern Kenya.

    It was a race she ran barefoot. Lokonyen only began running with shoes for the first time a year ago. 

    “My dream, my first priority, is to help my parents and my siblings and then after that to help my fellow refugees,” Lokonyen told Rio2016.com.

    The 10 refugee athletes hope to act not only as a symbol of hope worldwide but more importantly bring needed global attention to the plight and magnitude of the refugee crisis.

    The athletes will compete for the Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) – the first of its kind. The athletes were named to the ROT by the Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

    Rami Anis (M): Country of origin – Syria; host 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

    “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,” IOC president Thomas Bach said when the team was announced on June 3.