Monday, August 15, 2016

2016 OLYMPICS - The Refugee Team

"All-new refugee team wins hearts, if not medals, at Rio Olympics" PBS NewsHour 8/12/2016


SUMMARY:  They may not be winning gold, but their stories are certainly medal worthy.  The first-ever Refugee Olympic Team is competing in Rio, stacked with athletes like 18-year-old Yusra Mardini, who saved herself and other Syrians stranded during a dangerous Aegean crossing.  Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, says that the team aims to counteract negative global sentiment toward refugees.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  And we turn to another big story of these Games, away from the medal podiums.

Across the globe today, there are some 65 million people who've been forced from their homes, an unprecedented number.  Ten refugees are now on the world stage in Rio.

He didn't win the 100 meter butterfly yesterday, not even close, but 25-year-old Rami Anis, a Syrian refugee now living in Belgium, did get a standing ovation; 18-year-old Yusra Mardini, also from Syria, won a preliminary heat in her race before failing to advance further.  Still, by the very special terms she'd set for herself, this was a victory.

YUSRA MARDINI, Swimmer, Refugee Olympic Team:  For the refugees in Brazil, and all the refugees around the world, we are going to represent you guys in a really good picture.  And I hope you are going to learn from our story that you have to move on, because life will never stop with your problems or anything.  And I hope that everyone will continue to achieve their dreams.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Just last year, both Yusra Mardini and Rami Anis made the dangerous voyage across the Aegean Sea that's become a symbol of an international refugee crisis.

On Mardini's trip, the motor failed and she and her sister, also a swimmer, were the only ones strong enough to swim the crowded boat to safety.  One week ago, to a resounding welcome, the two young Syrians and eight other athletes made history as the first ever Refugee Olympic Team.

Filippo Grandi, U.N.  high commissioner for refugees, was there, and spoke with us yesterday from his Geneva headquarters.

FILIPPO GRANDI, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:  I was so nervous, like if I was going to give an exam, I can tell you.  And we had to wait for the whole ceremony, because they were the last but one team to enter before the hosts, Brazil.  And when they entered, the emotion was unlimited.

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