One of the highlights of Friday night’s Opening Ceeremony at the Olympics figures to be the entrance of the first-ever Olympic Refugee team. The squad is comprised of 10 athletes — all hailing from Syria, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo — who will compete under the Olympic flag. The team was assembled to shine a light on the refugee crisis.
Already, the team has many prominent supporters. Most notably, Pope Francis wrote a letter of support to the ten athletes — saying that he hoped the teams courage and strength “serve(s) 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,” the Pope wrote in a letter published by For The Win.
The team’s backstories are incredible. One team member, swimmer Yusra Mardini, fled Syria last year with her sister. According to USA Today, their boat broke down in the Mediterranean Sea, and the sisters were forced to tug the boat to safety.
“A lot of people are (expecting) a lot from us,” Mardini said. “A lot of people have hope in us and we can’t let them down.”
[image via screengrab]
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