Team of young refugees will compete at the Olympics this year

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As the world continues to see the largest displacement of people since World War II thanks to war and instability, a new team of athletes made up entirely of refugees will compete at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil this year.

The team will be made up of up to ten athletes who have fled their home countries in search of safety.

"I want to be an international swimmer and my sister too. But if we stay there we will not reach that because the situation is not OK in Syria," 20-year-old Sarah Mardini from Syria, one of the swimmers being considered for the team, told the Associated Press.


The cost of the athletes' travel, housing, coaching, and drug testing will be covered by the International Olympic Committee. The I.O.C. is calling them Team Refugee Olympic Athletes, and if anyone in the group wins a medal, they'll have the Olympic flag draped and the Olympic anthem played at the podium.

"By welcoming ROA to the Olympic Games in Rio, we want to send a message of hope to all the refugees of the world," International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach told the BBC.

According to the latest yearly figures from the UN, there are close to 60 million displaced people in the world, the first time that number has exceeded 50 million since the second world war.