Following a historic Welcome Ceremony for the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team (R.O.T.) in the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro last night, the IOC has announced that 800m runner Rose Nathike Lokonyen, originally from South Sudan, will be the team’s flagbearer at tomorrow’s Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
As such, 23 year-old Rose will carry the Olympic flag and, with her team mates, will march into the Maracanã Stadium before host nation Brazil. The young runner arrived in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya in 2002 and is part of the Tegla Loroupe Foundation.
Last night, with the Olympic anthem playing in the background and in the presence of IOC President Thomas Bach, the Olympic flag was raised in the Olympic Village in honour of the 10-member team and its entourage, which includes coaches and medical staff, 24 hours after they were introduced to the 129th IOC Session.
“This is a great rehearsal for the opening ceremony,” the IOC President told the R.O.T. members who were dancing at the end of the ceremony with the artists and athletes from other teams. Honorary President Jacques Rogge and Professor Muhammad Yunus, who addressed the session yesterday, were also in attendance.
On the occasion of the Team Welcome Ceremony, which also highlighted Brazilian culture, the R.O.T. Chef de Mission, three-time Olympian and former marathon world record-holder Tegla Loroupe (Kenya), signed the Truce Mural. A regular feature in the Olympic Village at all Games, it serves as a powerful symbol of the unifying power of sport and the Olympic Games.
Team Welcome Ceremonies are held in honour of all the 200+ National Olympic Committees (NOCs) expected to take part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016. Up to 10 official team welcome ceremonies are held every day as delegations arrive from around the world in the lead-up to the opening of the Games.