Refugee Athletes Without Home Countries Allowed To Compete In Olympics For First Time Ever

Refuees get the W!

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach announced this Monday that European refugees with no country to call home will be able to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero.

Per Reuters, 180 of the 193 UN member states agreed this was the best course of action to take on behalf of the displaced athletes.  

"In the Olympic Village, we see tolerance and solidarity in their purest form. Athletes from all 206 National Olympic Committees live together in harmony and without any kind of discrimination," Bach said in a statement. 

The UN Refugee Agency reported that in mid-2014 there were as many as 13 million refugees worldwide. The growing migration crisis in Europe with people attempting to seek asylum from Syria and the Middle East hasn't helped. And it's only going to get worse. 

Many Olympic athletes claimed asylum this past July, including Congolese judo coach Ibula Masengo, athletics director Guy Nkita and boxing trainer Blaise Bekw, per the Sunday Express. The committee plans to reach out to all qualifying athletes, who will be able to live in Olympic Village with the other 11,000 athletes. Because they will not have a national anthem or home country's flag, they will take on the Olympic anthem and flag. 

"This will be a symbol of hope for all the refugees in our world and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis," Bach said.

Cover Image via JL08 / Flickr