A team of ten refugee athletes has been selected to participate in the upcoming Rio Olympic Games in Brazil in August.
Announcing the team on Friday, the president of the International Olympic Committee Mr. Thomas Bach said the athletes, six men and four women, will participate in judo, racing and swimming.
“The invention of this refugee team is to give them a home in the Olympic village together with all the athletes around the world,” Bach said.
He added that the refugee athletes will enter the opening ceremony as the penultimate team before the host nation, Brazil.
The International Olympic Committee hopes to send a message of hope to refugees across the world and to the international community that refugees are human beings and an enrichment to the societies in which they are living, according to Thomas Bach.
The announcement comes at a time when refugees are facing serious rebuff around the world, even as the number of displaced persons continues to surge.
According to IB Times, at least one million refugees entered Europe seeking asylum in 2015 alone. With ongoing terror threats in the Middle East and some parts of Africa, the number of refugees is expected to rise.
Thousands of refugees from Syria and other parts of the Middle East are still stranded at the Greece-Macedonia border while the European nations continue to impose tight control measures on refugee arrivals.
In Kenya, the government has announced its plan to close Dadaab Refugee Camp – the world’s largest refugee camp – by November this year in response to claims that the camp is harboring Al-Shabaab terrorists from neighboring Somalia.
Additionally, thousands of migrants and refugees from Libya and other African countries have continued to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea to enter Europe. Just last week, a fishing boat capsized in the Mediterranean, killing at least 700 migrants.
Zika Virus Casts Cloud of Uncertainty over Rio Olympics
Less than two months from the scheduled Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a cloud of uncertainty still hovers over the tournament as Olympic organizers and Brazilian authorities contend with the problem of Zika virus.
Some athletes have already pulled out of the summer games in Rio de Janeiro, citing fears of contracting the Zika virus, which is thought to be mosquito-borne.
“Due to potential risks associated with the transmission of the Zika virus it was a difficult yet easy decision not to participate,” Australian golfer March Leishman announced in May.
Though not lethal, Zika virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse and from mother to child. It affects brain cells causing “microcephaly,” a birth defect that causes babies’ brains – and their entire heads – to be unusually small.