Bearing the Olympic Torch: The First Refugee Olympic Team

Published on 2nd August 2016

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced in June 2016 a team of ten refugee Olympic athletes to compete at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from August 5 – 21, 2016 as independent Olympic participants. The IOC intends to highlight the plight of refugees globally, stand in solidarity with them  and send a message of hope to all refugees across the world that they can tap their talent in spite of challenging circumstances.

The IOC has set aside a special fund of USD 2 million in its agenda 2020,to support refugees’ initiatives. For the last two decades the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Olympic Committee have organized development activities for the refugees globally by ensuring that potential refugees can participate in international competitions and earn a living. Syria has particularly been hard hit – with over 1 million – of its population becoming refugees.  

Involving refugees in competitions will offer an opportunity to the western world to internalize the refugee crisis. Most countries have blamed their economic and social woes on refugees. Most European countries were not willing to accept refugees from Syria in the ongoing civil war.

The International community should allow people fleeing persecution or war to cross borders and be firm against trafficking rings who exploit the refugee and migrant crisis. The summer games should be a wake up call for radical solutions and global cooperation in ensuring that strong mechanisms are put in place to support and resettle the most vulnerable civilians across the world.

By Simon Achieno

Current Affairs Commentator.


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