UN greets Brazil for successful completion of the Olympics


Foto: Agência Brasil/Fernando Frazão 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Brazil, the city of Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian people, the Organiser of Rio 2016 Committee and the International Olympic Committee for the successful closing of the Olympic Games, according to a statement issued by his spokesperson on Monday (22).

"Having the pleasure and the honor earlier this month of having attended the opening ceremony, the relay of the Olympic Torch, the visit the Olympic Village, been meeting with the Refugee Olympic Team and attended some events, the Secretary-General deeply appreciated the hospitality, diversity and capacity of the Brazilian people and the sporting world, mobilized in the first Olympics in Latin America."

After two weeks of competitions, disputes and dozens of records, the Rio 2016 Games were concluded on Sunday (21), having as one of its main legacies the participation of an unprecedented  Refugee Olympic Team.


   Foto: Agência Brasil/Fernando Frazão

According to the spokesperson, the Secretary-General applauded this historic event and encouraged all participants to ensure the building of sustainable development in the Games.

The Refugee Olympic Team

Comprising ten athletes from four different nationalities, the team participated in swimming competitions, judo and athletics. Even without winning medals, they were among the most applauded teams by the public during the Games - from the opening ceremony to the closing - and received wide coverage in the world media vehicles.

Refugee Athletes have become stars of the Olympic Village, receiving photos requests from competitors. During the closing ceremony at the Maracanã stadium, the team deserved a special mention from the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach.

"Thank you, dear refugee athletes. You have inspired us with your talent and human spirit. You are a symbol of hope for millions of refugees in the world and will have a place in our hearts forever," Bach said.


The last athlete of the team to participate in the Rio 2016 - Yonas Kinde Foto: ACNUR/B. Loyseau

The last athlete of the team to participate in the Rio 2016 was the Ethiopian Yonas Kinde, who ran the traditional proof of the marathon and arrived in 90th place with a time of two hours and 24 minutes. Like other refugee athletes, Yonas said he was satisfied with his performance and highlighted the importance of team participation in the Games.

"We're showing people that we are human beings. We must remember the millions of refugees and show our respect and love for these people," said Yonas, soon after completing the marathon. "Today, with my performance, showed that all refugees can do something important. Not only in athletics, but in anything else," said the athlete.

The capacity to achieve, determination and resilience of refugees was naturally highlighted by the team in all competitions in which participated. After visiting athletes on the last weekend, Deputy Head of the UN Agency for Refugees (UNHCR), Kelly Clements, said athletes "are an ultimate symbol of human spirit, determination and passion." For her, the athletes represent "true stories of courage and heroism."

On the results achieved in the trials of 2016, Clements recalled that the Olympics are not necessarily related to winning. She said: "The Olympic spirit is related to the way they compete and perform."

In this sense, Clements said he believed that refugees athletes "are truly Olympic" and that the team showed that "there are reasons for hope" regarding solutions to the biggest story of refugee crisis since the Second World War.

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