I’m pretty sure you must know the Olympic Games are on right now: you know, that global celebration of human sporting achievement sometimes called ‘The Greatest Show on Earth!’ You can’t turn on the TV without finding yourself watching (and caring about) a sport that you have no interest in at any other time. We watched the fencing today and tried to explain it to my bewildered four year old: ‘No, it’s not fighting. Yes, I know they have swords, and they are trying to hit each other but it isn’t fighting…’
We had no idea about the rules of fencing, or the scoring system, but that didn’t stop us watching and enjoying it. That’s the thing about the Olympics – it draws you in, makes you wonder if you have what it takes to represent your country and bring home a medal…
But not every team competing at this Olympic Games has a country. Some of them don’t even have a home. I’m talking about the special refugee team at the 2016 Olympics – the one made up of ten athletes from many different countries, whose flag is the Olympic flag and whose anthem is the Olympic anthem. One of these refugee athletes is Yusra Marino, a swimmer from Syria, who fled from her own war-torn country and pushed a boat filled with other refugees for three and a half hours across the Aegean Sea, saving their lives. She is competing in the 100 metres Freestyle and the 100m Butterfly races and will be flying the flag for around 60 millions refugees around the world.
This Special Olympic Team is one of my very favourite things about the Games this year. Four years ago, I was cheering on Team GB in London. This time, I’ll be rooting for another team too: the Olympic Refugee Team. I wish they could compete for their own countries.