This essay presents the main theme, two subthemes, global connections in relation to major ideas discussed. The number of persons displaced from their home countries by conflicts and persecution in the recent past is larger than in any period since more thorough record keeping started, according to the UN refugee agency recently released report, which showed that the current global migration of people was never witnessed before in these periods. In the previous year, the number of asylum seekers, refugees, and internally displaced people has exceeded 60 million relative to the period of World War II (Witte, 2015). The rapidly grow figure shows a world deep in conflict, subjected to wars in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. However, the systems established to control movements of refugees can no longer support such a large number and aid organizations are unable to cope up with a figure that is growing daily. Consequently, it has now culminated into a ‘world refugee crisis’, which is the main theme of this article that appeared in The Atlantic, “Rio 2016: Where Refugees Are Finally Being Recognized”.
One subtheme of this essay is the recognition of refugees. For refugees who took part in the Rio Games as the Refugee Olympic Team, the goal was far from winning medals (Price, 2016). Instead, the team focused on earning dignity and advancing refugee agenda globally (Friedman, 2016). Refugees are recognized as persons who cannot depend on their countries to protect them and, thus, seeking protection from other bodies and nations. Refugees have no country flag, national anthem, and home, and the Olympic Village provided an opportunity as they mingled with other athletes from other parts of the world. The Olympic flag represents international unity and cooperation among global nations, but refugees must carry it, notwithstanding the fact they do not have a country. The Refugee Olympic Team is a source of inspiration and internationalism for other refuges and asylum seekers globally. On the other hand, the Team also reflects a failure of the international community to stop conflicts and brutality across the world since they are responsible for the rising number of refugees and asylum seekers (Lind, 2016).
Another subtheme of this essay is the role of sports in improving society. One must recognize that the Rio Games provided the first opportunity ever for refugees to participate in international sports event. Sports play critical roles in the lives of refugees who have endured various forms of human suffering. Refugees have fled their countries, homes, left their families, and endured dangerous, uncertain journeys into the unknown. With millions displaced while the underlying problems remain unresolved, refugees continue to spend their time in restricted camps without contacts with the rest of the world, and the Rio Games offered a perfect opportunity for refugee recognition and showed that the games were more than competition among nations, but a source of hope for stateless persons (International Olympic Committee, 2016).
The world refugee crisis brings out some global connections. First, wars are responsible for the current world refugee crisis. It is estimated that between 1996 and 2005, about 12 million refugees returned to their home countries, but this number dwindled to about 4.2 million between 2006 and 2015 (Lind, 2016). To understand the chief reason, one must focus on new wars. The most notorious war with the largest displacement of persons is the Syrian Civil War, which is responsible for millions of new refugees who cannot return because of the ongoing war. In addition, regions, such as South Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Central African Republic, that have been in wars for decades have also witnessed flaring conflicts and impunity. Thus, the refugee status is becoming permanent.
Second, as previously mentioned, the participation of the Refugee Olympic Team reflected the failure of the international community to protect human rights. Rather than improving efforts to address the world refugee crisis, many developed nations have resorted to inactions and to some extent closing their borders for aliens. Olympic Games, which is a large international sports competition meant to enhance international goodwill, was therefore a better opportunity to highlight the status of refugees. Refugees wanted to portray heroism in sports and potential values they can bring to any countries that absorb them and probably inspire some political leaders to change their stand to welcome more asylum seekers and refugees. The outcome of participation in the Games remains unknown.
Finally, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) collaborated with Tegla Loroupe in Kenya to make the Refugee Olympic Team a reality for South Sudanese refugees. The global reach of the OIC focused on linking the world refugee crisis with the Rio Games when a young Syrian refugee was the touchbearer in Brazil (Jacobs, 2016). Through funding extended to Loroupe, she was able to train about 30 refugee athletes in her camp.
In summary, the use of the Rio Games to highlight the world refugee crisis did indeed brought about some elements of global connections. Wars continue to drive the number of refugees higher, but the international community has failed to address the issue sufficiently. Nevertheless, the IOC and other individuals demonstrate the role of sports in improving human society.
Friedman, U. (2016). Rio 2016: Where Refugees Are Finally Being Recognized. The Atlantic. Web.
International Olympic Committee. (2016). Refugee Olympic Team to shine spotlight on worldwide refugee crisis. Web.
Jacobs, A. (2016). A young Syrian torchbearer highlights Brazil’s embrace of refugees. The New York Times. Web.
Lind, D. (2016). Rio 2016: The Refugee Olympic Team doesn’t need your cheers. They need countries to fix their crisis. Vox. Web.
Price, S. (2016). The longest run: Olympics about more than winning for Refugee team. Sports Illustrated. Web.
Witte, G. (2015). New U.N. report says world’s refugee crisis is worse than anyone expected. The Washington Post. Web.