Refugee Olympic Team


An Olympic swimmer
Photo via the IOC

Liz Waid and Bruce Gulland tell about a new Olympic Team. This team does not represent any one country - instead, they represent refugees everywhere!

Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2  

And I’m Bruce Gulland. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

It is a long, summer day off the coast of Turkey. Yusra Mardini and her sister sit in a small boat. The boat is made for six people. However, there are 20 people in it. Soon, the engine stops working. The boat cannot move. Water begins to fill it.

Voice 2  

Everyone begins to worry. Each person has travelled very far. They have left their home country of Syria because of the war. They are refugees travelling through the dangerous Mediterranean Sea. They hope to arrive safely to the island of Lesbos, Greece. But their chances are not looking good.

Voice 1  

Then, Mardini, her sister and one other young woman make a brave choice. They jump out of the boat and swim. In Syria, Mardini was on the national swim team. But this is a different kind of swimming. The sea is cold and rough. The women swim for three and a half hours - guiding the boat toward Lesbos. They can see the island ahead of them, but they are tired.

Voice 2  

Finally, the people on the boat try the engine again. This time, it works. Everyone gets back in the boat and the group travels the last meters to shore.

Voice 1  

Mardini and her group have made it to Lesbos. But Mardini’s goal is to travel much further than that. She wants to make it to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Jainero, Brazil. Today’s Spotlight is on the first ever Olympic Refugee Team.

Voice 2  

In March of 2016, the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, announced that it will send the first ever team of Olympic Refugee Athletes to the Summer Games. In the past, an athlete could not compete in the Olympic Games unless they represented a home country. Refugees are people that are forced to leave their home country because of war, persecution or disaster. So, they were unable to compete.

Voice 1  

This year, the IOC changed this rule. They wanted people to notice the world’s growing refugee problem. There have always been refugees. But now, there are over 20 million refugees. This is the same population as many of the world’s countries!

Voice 2  

The IOC identified 43 refugees from around the world who competed for a chance to go to the Olympic Games. Yusra Mardini was one of them. The IOC promised to support these athletes and help them train. But not all of them were good enough to make it to the Olympic Games.

Voice 1  

Thomas Bach is the president of the IOC. In June of 2016, the IOC announced that ten of these refugee athletes will compete in Rio. This may seem like a small number. But the IOC believes they will make a big difference. In an official statement, Bach said:

Voice 3  

"By welcoming the team of Refugee Olympic Athletes to the Olympic Games Rio 2016, we want to send a message of hope for all refugees in our world,"

Voice 2  

The team of Olympic Refugee Athletes will train and compete just like any other Olympic team. However, a few things will be different. Bach said,

Voice 3  

“The refugee athletes have no national team to belong to. They have no flag to march behind. They have no national song to play. So, the IOC will welcome them to the Olympic Games with the Olympic flag and the Olympic song. They will have a home together with all the other athletes in the Olympic village.”

Voice 1  

Today, Mardini lives and trains in the country of Germany. She is one of the ten athletes on Team Refugee Olympic Athletes. She has dreamed of swimming in the Olympics for many years. But now, it is about more than just national pride. She told the Guardian news organization:

Voice 4

“I want refugees to be proud of me. It would show that even if we had a difficult journey, we can achieve something.”

Voice 2  

Five of the Olympic Refugee Team athletes are refugees from South Sudan. They all come one refugee camp. It is the Kakuma refugee camp in north-western Kenya. Kakuma is home to over 180,000 refugees. Most of the refugees are from areas of conflict in South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi and Rwanda.

Voice 1  

Many of the Kakuma athletes are middle- and long-distance runners. They have trained in the refugee camp’s sports program. Pere Miro is the director of the IOC’s Olympic Solidarity Program. He visited Kakuma in January 2016 to identify possible athletes for the team. He told the Guardian News organization,

Voice 5  

“I was touched emotionally to see how the people live in this camp. It is in the middle of nowhere. They have nothing to do. The main activity that keeps them motivated and alive is sport.”

Voice 2  

Popole Misenga is also one of the ten refugee athletes on the new Refugee Olympic team. He competes in the sport of Judo. Misegna is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. His country suffers from a terrible civil war. He left in 2013 after his brother went missing and his mother was killed. He told the Guardian news organization,

Voice 6

“I wondered sometimes how to live when so many people were dying. I have seen too much war, too much death. I do not want to get into that. I want to stay clean so I can do my sport.”

Voice 1  

Ban Ki-moon is the United Nation’s General Secretary. In April of 2016, he welcomed news of the first ever Olympic Refugee Team. He said,

Voice 7  

“For the first time, talented athletes who have been forced to flee their homes will get a chance to compete for an Olympic gold medal. Their fellow refugees will see outstanding athletes who give hope to all. And the world will see refugees the way they deserve to be seen: as talented, strong and inspiring people.”

Voice 2  

The writer of this program was Robin Basselin. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Refugee Olympic Team.”

Voice 1  

Tell us what you think about today’s program. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. And find us on Facebook - just search for spotlightradio.

Voice 2  

You can also get our programmes delivered directly to your Android or Apple device through our free official ‘Spotlight English’ app. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

What team or athlete will you cheer for in the next Olympics?

Comments


Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on August 06, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Saturday 06, August 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Robin Basselin, Bruce Gulland, and Michio Ozaki:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article. Thanks!
I will cheer for the whole teams and athletes in the next Olimpics Games because they are talented and hard-working athletes.
For that reason, they deserve our cheer and applause. However, I want to tell you that I am very proud because yesterday happened one big and beautiful event to celebrate the beginning of the Olimpics Games in RIO DE JANEIRO. It was presented live by GLOBO TELEVISION.
I watched only the first part of it because I was very tired. I had worked at the hospital during the whole day.
Also, I want to tell you that the first GOLD medal was won by an America Girl. So, I am very happy of everybody and competitors.

Yours regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on August 11, 2016

Good thing that the IOC changed the old rules and allowed to the refugees of the world to play as a team in the Olympic games for the world maybe will heading about refugees and their sufferings.
As a one of refugee, I want to tell Yusra Mardini and all team members that I’m proud to you and I pray for you. Good luck.
God bless you