Unique Teams in the 2016 Summer Olympics

In only a short time from now, much of the world’s attention will be focused on the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Athletes representing nearly all of the world’s countries will be there in various competitions. Many of them have been practicing for most of their lives.

The August 1, 2016 issue of TIME Magazine has a very interesting six-page article. It is titled “The Longest Run,” and subtitled “The First Team of Refugee Olympians Will Be Competing for the Dignity of All.” The story is about how a small portion of the hundreds of thousands of refugees (mostly in Eastern Africa, but also in Syria), have been able to be accepted into a unique category of refugee Olympians. Many fled their homelands (especially in South Sudan — the world’s newest country) and literally ran as fast as they could into Ethiopia and more so into Kenya (where there were and still are refugee camps). Many lost family members. That they were even able to survive is amazing.

It seems nothing less than a miracle whereby ten men and women from four countries (Syria, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan) will be what TIME calls “Team Refugee.”

Given their brief training, often lack of appropriate clothing and shoes, and other things taken for granted by most of their competitors, it is not likely that any will go home with an Olympic medal. However, by simply being in Rio, their stories are likely to be told to wider audiences and provide inspiration for many others. As the Apostle Paul said in the New Testament, “Run the race which is before you.”

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