43 sportsmen and women have been identified to potentially form part of a team refugee athletes at Rio this summer.
The president of the international olympic committee, Thomas Bach has called it a ‘message of hope’ for refugees across the world. Their names have not been released but the opportunity to compete under the Olympic flag must be a dream come true for the selected.
African refugees who have become top sportsmen and women include South Sudanese long-distance athlete Lopez Lomong (United States) and Miami Heat’s Luol Deng (Great Britain), Eritrean middle-distance runner Meraf Bahta (Sweden), Liberian refugee and ex-Arsenal midfielder, Fabrice Muamba and long-distance runner Eritrean Mebrahtom Keflezighi (United States). In 2012 South Sudanese Guor Marial ran under the Olympic flag as an independent athlete but this is the first time a team will be created.
The members of the team will be announced in June. It’s a wonderful example of sports bringing people together. And it could lead to some amazing sporting performances.