Wednesday, August 3, 2016

An invitation to Rio

May I share some good news?
It's a heart-warming story, one that we can celebrate together.

Did you know that, amongst the national teams at this year's Olympic Games, the IOC has chosen to include a ten-member team of refugees?

"These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem," said the IOC President, Thomas Bach, "they will show the world that, despite the unimaginable tragedies that they've faced, anyone can  contribute to society through their talent, skills and the strength of the human spirit."

This is not a token team, one that has little hope of achieving medals.  Instead, it comprises skilled athletes who have been training hard in the countries that have offered them a home.

Refugees from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Refugees who now reside in Germany, Brazil, Kenya, Belgium, Luxembourg and Kenya.

Yusra Mardini, who comes from war-torn Syria, now lives and trains in Berlin.
Four years ago, as she was trying to cross the Mediterranean in an overcrowded boat, the flimsy vessel started taking on water.  Yusra slipped down into the water and helped to push it towards the safety of Lesbos.

As she struggled in the sea, could she, I wonder, have dared to dream just where these swimming skills would lead her?

Only her own courage, coupled with the generosity of the people of Berlin, made this possible.  "I want to show everyone," she says, "that after the pain, after the storm, comes calm days."

And what of Anjelina Nadal Lohalith, who hasn't seen or spoken to her parents since fleeing Southern Sudan at the age of six?

Helping her parents is her chief motivation in the build-up to the 1,500 metre event . . . whilst coverage of the Games will, she hopes, enable them to discover her whereabouts.

This Friday will see the realisation of their dreams . . .  the moment they've been focussing on will finally arrive.
The refugee team will walk into the Olympic Stadium ahead of the host country, Brazil.
The Olympic flag will precede them, and the Olympic anthem will be played in their honour.

Against all odds, they will be participating in the Games.  It's the outcome of the IOC's wisdom, coupled with their own courage and abilities.

However, as I'm sure you'd agree, there are two other factors that mustn't be overlooked.  Firstly,  the generosity of those countries who not only offered sanctuary to the refugees, but also provided the all-important training that's transported them to Rio.
And, secondly, the families of the refugee athletes, many of whom are still trapped in areas of heavy fighting.  May this be an opportunity for them to rediscover their offspring, and rejoice in their abilities.

Would you like to meet the team?
Then click here . . . and join me in wishing them every possible success!