Historic All-Refugee Team To Compete At Olympics

The world’s 20 million refugees will finally have a presence

It’s been a long time coming. In a ground-breaking decision, the International Olympic Committee announced that they would allow 10 athletes to compete in the games as a team of refugees under the Olympic flag. While it’s not the first time geopolitical issues have caused a team to participate under this banner, it is the first time that a team of refugees from different nations will band together.

Forty-three athletes from countries such as Syria, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo were up for spots on the team, which has been whittled down to 10 participants. There are six men and four women, and they’ll enter the stadium during the Opening Ceremony even before host country Brazil. The athletes will be competing in track and field, swimming, and judo; some have resettled in Europe, while others were found while staying in a refugee camp in Kenya.

Popole Misenga, a refugee from Democratic Republic of Congo, suits up for a Judo match (Getty Images)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) hopes the team will shed light on the international refugee crisis, which has caused heated discussion in Europe, Canada, the United States...all over the globe, really.. The EU may restrict the number of refugees it takes in from North Africa, Germany has reported a rise in hate crimes, and Montana residents are experiencing strife over whether to house Syrian families. This move by the Olympic Committee is a way to put a face on a crisis that has been been receiving quite a bit of attention—without the understanding to match. As IOC president Thomas Bach noted in his announcement, for at least the duration of the Games, these currently stateless refugees will have a home in the Olympic Village with their fellow athletes.

It’s a heartwarming story that will surely stir up some tears from everyone watching on their television (or iPad) screens, but as NPR points out with numbers from the U.N., there are about 20.2 million refugees globally—which means that these athletes, who are being called a “symbol of hope” by Bach, also have a major opportunity to bring awareness to those refugees who aren’t quite as fast in the 1500m. What will be truly affecting is if their participation in the Games brings more empathy to a crisis that’s been very emotionally charged, where the stakes aren’t medals but life and death.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less