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Rome Reports

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Meet the first ever Refugee Olympic Team competing in Rio

Lately, the use of the word "refugeeâ? has been referenced in the media as a negative term for a marginalized group of people escaping some form of persecution. YUSRA MARDINI Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) "When youâ??re an athlete you do not think if youâ??re Syrian, or from London or Germany you just think about your race and you have your lane, your swimming cap, your swimming clothes and thatâ??s it.â?  These refugees are turning a new page as they make history. The world will soon officially recognize them as the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team. YOLANDE MABIKA Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) "My message to them would be not to give up on hope and to keep believing, to have faith in their hearts. We went through a lot of suffering in Congo, and this is still the case nowadays. This is the case of all the refugees around the world who are suffering from their family losses, from the wars, the killings.â? Many of these top-tier athletes would not have the opportunity to participate in the Olympic Games due to their refugee status. They will now have a place to call home together as they join 11,000 athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees in the Olympic Village this year. THOMAS BACH IOC President "The Olympic anthem will be played in their honor. The Olympic flag will lead them into the Olympic stadium and in this way, we are convinced that this refugee Olympic team can send a symbol of hope. These refugee athletes will show to the world that despite the unimaginable prejudice that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talents, skills, and strength of the human spirit.â?  This is an initiative lead by Thomas Bach, the president of  the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Bach set off to create a change in the midst of the current refugee crisis occurring around the world.  In the last 20 years, the IOC and UNHCR have been using the aid of sports programs to help mobilize young refugees.  YA IOC/UNHCR -SV PR Up:YA