HomeArticlesRio OlympicsOlympic refugee team arrives in Rio 2016 athletes' village to rapturous welcome

Olympic refugee team arrives in Rio 2016 athletes’ village to rapturous welcome

The 10-strong refugee team will compete under the Olympic flag and the Olympic anthem will be played in their honour

The team of 10 refugee athletes who will compete at Rio 2016 were welcomed with cheers, music and dancing when they arrived in the Olympic Village on Wednesday (3 August).

Hundreds of athletes from other countries were there to greet the refugees at a special welcoming ceremony, joined by media from all around the world.


The 25-year-old Syrian swimmer Rami Anis was one of the most enthusiastic members of the refugee team at the event, filming the proceedings on his smartphone, photographing other athletes and even dancing a little samba at the end of the welcome ceremony.

Another Syrian swimmer, Yusra Mardini, also filmed the historic events in the village. Mardini won worldwide recognition when she helped save 20 refugees from drowning in the Mediterranean when they fled from Turkey to Greece.


James Nyang Chiengjiek, from South Sudan, said that he hoped that sport would serve as an inspiration for peace. “The interaction between the peoples in the athletes’ village is one of the best things of the Olympic Games. It is absolutely incredible.”

The refugee team will compete under the Olympic flag and the Olympic anthem will be played in their honour. Like the other delegations, the team will stay in the athletes’ village and will be accompanied by an entourage of coaches, medical staff and other officials.


The welcome ceremony on Wednesday also greeted the small delegations from the countries of Nepal, Mali, El Salvador, Côte d’Ivoire and Paraguay.

The youngest athlete who will compete at Rio 2016, the 13-year-old Nepalese swimmer Gaurika Singh, was another stand-out presence at the village on Wednesday night. Gaurika is famous for her chatiable actions, especially for the funds that she has raised for victims of the Nepalese earthquake last year.

Singh, who lives in London, was in Kathmandu for the national championships in April 2015 when a massive earthquake hit the region, killing an estimated 9,000 people as hundreds of buildings crashed to the ground. Singh was determined to play her part and donated her winnings from the national championships, about 200 pounds sterling, to a charity set up to rebuild Nepalese schools.

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