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Rome Reports

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Refugee Olympic Team goes for gold in Tokyo

The Olympic Games in Tokyo bring together athletes from nations all around the globe. They also features those who had to leave their home countries in search of safety.

The Refugee Olympic Team participated in the Olympics for the first time in 2016, when the Games were held in Rio de Janeiro. This year, 25 athletes will compete on the Refugee Olympic Team in Tokyo.

They represent the plight of refugees worldwide, and carry the dreams of their families who cheer them on from towns and villages around the world. 

Anjelina Nadai Lohalith fled the war in South Sudan when she was six years old, and hasn't seen her parents since. Now, she will be going for gold in the 1500m race in Tokyo.

Aunt of Olympic Athlete

“I think she is a role model. She inspires me a lot. If I was young, I would have definitely loved to be an athlete. I keep encouraging my own kids to look up to Anjelina and so they can travel and see the world like she has.”

Paulo Amotun also fled the war in South Sudan with his sister Regina, who had this to say to her brother ahead of the Games in Tokyo.

Sister of Olympic Athlete

“I pray that you get a good position during the marathon, I will be so happy. I want to encourage you and pray that God guide you to victory.

Pope Francis has often hailed sport as a model for overcoming challenges, such as the ones faced by these athletes, and developing strong values.

“It gives us a challenge to which we are called, and not just athletes: accepting the hardship and sacrifice needed to achieve important goals in life, as well as accepting one's limitations without being paralyzed by them, and eventually overcome them.”

The Refugee Olympic Team puts the resilience and strength of refugees front and center on the world's biggest stage. Now, in Tokyo, these athletes are competing to put a refugee on an Olympic podium for the first time.