THE 10 ATHLETES ON THE REFUGEE OLYMPIC TEAM (ROT) WERE WELCOMED TO THE IOC SESSION WITH A STANDING OVATION TODAY, AND TOOK THE OPPORTUNITY TO URGE COMPASSION FOR THE WORLD’S 65 MILLION REFUGEES AND OTHER DISPLACED PEOPLE.
“We are ambassadors for the other refugees. We cannot forget this chance that you gave us,” Olympian Yiech Pur Biel, a refugee from South Sudan told the IOC members. “We are not bad people. It’s only a name to be a refugee.”
Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini, a swimmer, thanked the IOC for giving the refugee athletes the opportunity to show that refugees can contribute to society.
“We still are humans. We are not only refugees. We are like everyone in the world. We can do something. We can achieve something,” she said. “We didn’t choose to leave our homelands. We didn’t choose the name of refugees… We promise again that we are going to do what it takes to inspire everyone.”
The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, said the IOC established the ROT in part to raise awareness of the magnitude of the refugee crisis. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, estimates that more than 65 million people have been forced from their homes by war, famine and other man-made and natural disasters. They include 21 million refugees who have fled to other countries, foreign media reports.