Olympic Opening Ceremony Gives Standing Ovation to Refugee Team

The 2016 Olympic Games held its Opening Ceremony on the evening of Friday, August 5th, 2016. The Marcanã Stadium of Rio de Janeiro proved to…

The 2016 Olympic Games held its Opening Ceremony on the evening of Friday, August 5th, 2016. The Marcanã Stadium of Rio de Janeiro proved to be an amazing host while NBC proved to be an ad-laden station. 78,000 spectators gathered to watch the Olympic Charter mandated formal opening ceremony. While the welcoming speeches, hosting of the flags and parade of athletes is a familiar sight to Olympic game fans- one new attribute brought the thousands of spectators to their feet! For the first time in Olympic history, a team of refugee athletes were welcomed in the opening ceremony to compete.

The competing refugee team is comprised of 10 athletes from 4 countries. Rami Anis is a swimmer originating from Syria and being hosted by Belgium. Yiech Pur Biel, James Nyang Chiengjiek, Rose Nathike, Paulo Amotun Lokoro, and Anjelinda Nada Lohalith are runners originating from South Sudan and being hosted by Kenya. Yonas Kinde is a marathon runner originating from Ethiopia and being hosted by Luxembourg. Yolande Bukasa Mabika and Popole Misenga are judo fighters originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and being hosted by Brazil. Yusra Mardini is a swimmer originating in Syria and being hosted by Germany.

You can find the autobiographies for the athletes here!

Many teams were welcomed and had some familiar faces front-line-and-center. For example, the decorated Olympian Michael Phelps was chosen as the United States flag bearer. There were also some unfamiliar faces that fans and viewers of the games will come to know in the coming days, like the golfer Rickie Fowler. Golf is another surprise this 2016 Olympic Games, coming back after not being included in the games for quite some time.

All in all, the opening ceremony stayed true to the the rich and colorful culture of Brazil. The narrative presented and imagery using the reds, whites and purples was nothing short of amazing. While the opening ceremony was not as decorated as say, Beijing or London- the competitive spirit and rich history of the country was apparent.


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