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By now you may have heard that refugee marathoner Guor Marial, who was featured on this blog last week, has been allowed to compete as an independent athlete at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The decision, which was confirmed to RI in a letter from International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, is a triumph for Guor and his supporters - some of whom worked tirelessly for months to make his Olympic dream a reality.
Here at RI, we're proud to have played a small part in Guor's success through our direct advocacy with the IOC and members of Congress like Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Senator Jeanne Shaheen. We're proud that a talented young man is getting the opportunity he is due, and that the ideals of the Olympic Movement - solidarity, fair play, and the dignity of every individual - have been upheld in his case.
But for all of us here, Guor's story is about much more than one athlete's accomplishments: it's about the promise and potential of every person - be they a refugee, displaced, or even stateless.
There are more than 54 million displaced or stateless people in our world today and, like Guor, each one has skills, talents, and dreams for the future. But as RI has witnessed time and again, these dreams often go unrealized because of poverty or oppression. Our job is to ensure that these people get the assistance they need to both rebuild their lives and fulfill their potential as human beings.
By getting his chance at Olympic glory, Guor is showing the world what displaced and stateless people can do if they are given the chance to achieve. Guor's own struggle to escape oppression in Sudan was long and brutal, but in the end - and with help from others - he succeeded. Just imagine if more individuals like him got a similar chance at success. Just imagine how many more stories of human triumph we could celebrate if we gave safety, sustenance, and hope to every person fleeing violence or calamity.
Later today, as the Olympics get underway, Guor will be at home in Arizona, packing and practicing for his trip to London. And when the Olympic flag rises above the opening ceremonies, we will be thinking of him and all that he represents. He may not have a country to compete for, or a national flag to run with. But just by reaching the starting line, he has won a small victory for the dignity of displaced and stateless people everywhere - and that's something worth cheering for.July 27, 2012 | Tagged as: Africa, Climate Displacement, South Sudan, Sudan, Humanitarian Response, Protection & Security, About RI, Statelessness, Women & Children