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Syrian swimmer to compete on team of refugees at Rio Olympics

Credit: Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press)
Credit: Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press

The International Olympic Committee has reportedly identified 43 potential refugee athletes to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. As many as 10 will be selected to compete on a team as “a message of hope” at this summer’s Games.

According to IOC President Thomas Bach, the 10 athletes selected will compete on “Team Refugee Olympic Athletes”. The selection depends on the specific sports’ qualification criteria.

“We have all been touched by the magnitude of this refugee crisis,” Bach told reporters. “By welcoming this team of refugee athletes to Rio, we want to send a message of hope for all refugees of the world.”

Among the 43 potential athletes is a 17-year-old swimmer named Yusra Mardini, who fled Syria with her family. Along with a group of 20 other refugees, she used an inflatable boat to travel to Turkey. When the boat began deflating, she and her sister pushed it to shore by kicking in the water for three and a half hours. All passengers on the boat — none of whom were swimmers — arrived safely.

Mardini, who now lives in Germany, is one of several athletes to have received funding from a $2 million IOC scholarship fund for refugees.

As of now, the IOC has not identified any triathlete refugees with the potential to compete at the Games.