Team Refugee Ready for Rio Olympics

Last year, the United Nations estimated there were more than 21 million refugees scattered across the globe—a level unseen since World War II. As the 2016 Olympic games approached, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach saw an opportunity to focus global attention on the crisis, and to give some of the athletes among this huge stateless population a chance to compete on the world stage. The IOC selected a group of 10 refugee athletes from South Sudan, Syria, Congo and Ethiopia to compete for the newly-formed Refugee Olympic Team. During the Opening Ceremony, the team will march into the stadium carrying the Olympic flag. [21 photos total]

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Athletes of the Refugee Olympic Team take pictures with a staffer in front of the statue of Christ the Redeemer ahead of Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 30, 2016. (Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP / Getty) #
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Paulo Amotun Kokoro, left foreground, runs during a training session in Ngong, Kenya. Kokoro is one of five runners from South Sudan that grew up in a refugee camp and are part of the IOC's first refugee team that will be competing at the Rio Olympics. (Khalil Senosi / AP) #
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Popole Misenga, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo and a judo athlete, poses near his home in a slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 2, 2016. (Pilar Olivares / Reuters) #
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Olympic refugee team swimmer Rami Anis dives while training at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on July 28, 2016. Both Anis and fellow swimmer Yusra Mardini are refugees of war-torn Syria. Both survived part of the dangerous journey by making their way from the Turkish coast across the Aegean Sea to Greece in boats. (Mario Tama / Getty) #
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Anjaline Lohalith of the Olympic Refugee Team talks while attending a press conference on July 31, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Ker Robertson / Getty) #
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Yusra Mardini of Syria during a training session at the Wasserfreunde Spandau 04 training pool Olympiapark Berlin on March 9, 2016, in Berlin, Germany. (Alexander Hassenstein / Getty for IOC) #
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Refugee and judo athlete Yolande Mabika from Democratic Republic of Congo walks to a judo training session ahead of the Olympic games on July 28, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. (Buda Mendes / Getty) #
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Olympic refugee team members arrive at the Rio de Janeiro International Airport to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics on July 29, 2016. (Leo Correa / AP) #
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Olympic refugee team swimmer Rami Anis trains at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium ahead on July 28, 2016, in Rio. (Mario Tama / Getty) #
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In this May 27, 2016 photo, Popole Misenga, a refugee and judo athlete from the Democratic Republic of Congo, jogs near his home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as he trains in hopes of making the cut for the first Olympic team of refugee athletes. Misenga is one of two judo athletes from Congo who say the chance to be part of history feels like a form of vindication, a collective recognition of both the suffering and aspirations of refugees everywhere. (Felipe Dana / AP) #
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Refugee and judo athlete from the Democratic Republic of Congo Yolande Mabika (center) during a training session in Rio on July 28, 2016. (Nacho Doce / Reuters) #
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Popole Misenga, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now represents the team of Refugee Olympic Athletes. shows emotion when speaking about his family as he talks to the media at the Olympic Refugee Team Press Conference at the Barra Olympic Park on July 30, 2016. (Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty) #
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Athletes from South Sudan, part of the refugee athletes who qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics, From left: Paulo Amotun Lokoro, Rose Nathike Lokonyen, Yiech Pur Biel, Anjelina Nada Lohalith, and James Nyang Chiengjiek, after a training session at their camp in Ngong township near Kenya's capital Nairobi, on June 9, 2016. (Thomas Mukoya / Reuters) #
14
Olympic refugee team swimmer Yusra Mardini trains at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on July 28, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. Mardini is a refugee of war-torn Syria. She survived part of the dangerous journey, from the Turkish coast across the Aegean Sea to Greece, swimming to help ferry an overloaded inflatable dinghy across open waters as most other passengers could not swim. (Mario Tama / Getty) #
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Olympic refugee team swimmers Yusra Mardini (left) and Rami Anis, both from Syria, dry off after training at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on July 28, 2016, in Rio. (Mario Tama / Getty) #
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Judo athlete Popole Misenga looks on during a training session ahead of the Olympic games on July 28, 2016, in Rio. (Buda Mendes / Getty) #
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Members of the Olympic refugee team pose in front of Christ the Redeemer above Rio de Janeiro on July 30, 2016. (Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters) #
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Members of the Refugee Olympic Team pose together in front of the Christ the Redeemer statue on July 30, 2016. (Felipe Dana / AP) #
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South Sudan's athlete Anjelina Nada Lohalith (left) and James Nyang Chiengjiek (2nd tight) for the Refugee Olympic Team, take pictures with tourists in front of the statue of Christ the Redeemer on July 30, 2016. (Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP / Getty) #
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Team Refugee's Amotun Paulo and Yiech Pur Biel with a volunteer take snapshots during their welcoming ceremony in Rio on August 1, 2016. (Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters) #
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Syrian refugee team swimmer Yusra Mardini, 18, practices at the Olympic swimming venue in Rio de Janeiro. (Michael Dalder / Reuters) #

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