At this year’s Olympic Games, a team made up entirely of refugees will have the chance to compete and offer hope to refugees worldwide.
The 10-person Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) was formed by the IOC to inspire others and to bring comprehensive attention to the severity of the refugee crisis.
The team features an Ethiopian athlete, two Syrian athletes, two athletes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and five South Sudanese athletes on its roster.
In late July, Pope Francis wrote a warm letter to the refugees:
Dear brothers and sisters Rami Anis, Yiech Pur Biel, James Nyang Chiengjiek, Yonas Kinde, Anjelina Nada Lohalith, Rose Nathike Lokonyen, Paulo Amotun Lokoro, Yusra Mardini, Popole Misenga and Yolande Bukasa Mabika:
I have learned about your team and read some of your interviews so that I could get closer to your lives and your aspirations.
I extend my greetings and wish you success at the Olympic Games in Rio — that your courage and strength find expression through the Olympic Games and serve as a cry for peace and solidarity. Through you may humanity understand that peace is possible, and that with peace everything is a triumph; while with war everything is a loss.
Your experience serves as testimony and benefits us all.
I pray for you and ask that you, please, do the same for me.
God bless you.