"I don't see a country called Refugee anywhere on the map -- do you?"
That's the very first comment I read when watching a video of Yusra Mardini, 18, one of the 10 athletes that make up the Rio Olympics 2016 Refugee Team.
Now, the Rio Olympics finally represents the true and whole world -- a team that represents over 65 million refugees worldwide.
To those questioning where the nation "Refugee" is, I kindly ask to refer to the Principles of Olympism (aka the Philosophy of Olympic Games):
"The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity."
The Olympic Games serves to reflect this principle: to show that groups of people who are unjustifiably burdened by the tyranny of war and have become displaced from their very own homes exist. To show that we as humans can break these geographical and societal boundaries. To show that we care, and that everyone matters.
The Olympics have allowed Kosovo (still officially a part of Serbia) to make its Olympic debut, Chinese Taipei to compete with over 50 athletes and Palestine to compete with its six athletes.
Although Kuwait has been banned from the Olympics by the IOC, swimmer Faye Sultan will still be allowed to swim. The Olympics allows athletes to participate despite the mistakes of their home country.
1. Swimming: Yusra Mardini, 18 -- Syria
2. Swimming: Rami Anis, 18 -- Syria
3. Judo: Popole Misenga, 24 -- Democratic Republic of the Congo
4. Track and Field: Yonas Kinde, 36 -- Ethiopia
5. Judo: Yolande Bukasa Mabika, 28 -- Democratic Republic of the Congo
6. Track and Field: Paulo Amotun Lokoro, 24 -- South Sudan
7. Track and Field: James Chiengjiek, 24 -- South Sudan
8. Track and Field: Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, 23 -- South Sudan
9. Track and Field: Yiech Pur Biel, 21 -- South Sudan
10. Track and Field: Rose Nathike Lokonyen, 21 -- South Sudan
These refugees are not a monolithic group, nor are they helpless.
Like all of the world-class athletes competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics, these are powerful and strong individuals who have risen above the violence and the lack of means of their home country. These are individuals who have gone this far despite war. As this team fights to represent the dozens of millions of people who have not been given to dignity and respect they deserve, I hope that you will be cheering them on with me.