The major change in this year's Olympics that is bringing hope to the world

The Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games will be unlike any the world has ever seen.

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  • The Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games are unlike any the world has ever seen before.

  • No, it isn't the Zika virus, sewage-infested bodies of water, Brazil's ongoing economic crisis or any of the other gloom-and-doom issues the media constantly reports that make this year's games so different.

  • It's something else, something special.

  • For the first time in Olympic history, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games feature an all-refugee team. In Friday night's opening ceremony, the Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) marched with the Olympic flag immediately ahead of the host nation Brazil.

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  • The ROT is made up of 10 athletes selected from a group of 43 refugee athletes by the executive board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The team's final composition was announced earlier this year in June.

  • Each athlete on the ROT has an amazing story of survival and perseverance, showing their will to never give up.

  • Here are the athletes with links to videos of their stories:

  • Rami Anis (M)

  • Country of origin - Syria; host NOC - Belgium; sport - swimming

  • Yiech Pur Biel (M)

  • Country of origin - South Sudan; host NOC - Kenya; sport - athletics, 800m

  • James Nyang Chiengjiek (M)

  • Country of origin - South Sudan; host NOC - Kenya; sport - athletics, 400m

  • Yonas Kinde (M)

  • Country of origin - Ethiopia; host NOC - Luxembourg; sport - athletics, marathon

  • Anjelina Nada Lohalith (F)

  • Country of origin - South Sudan; host NOC - Kenya; sport - athletics, 1500m

  • Rose Nathike Lokonyen (F)

  • Country of origin - South Sudan; host NOC - Kenya; sport - athletics, 800m

  • Paulo Amotun Lokoro (M)

  • Country of origin - South Sudan; host NOC - Kenya; sport - athletics, 1500m

  • Yolande Bukasa Mabika (F)

  • Country of origin - Democratic Republic of the Congo; host NOC - Brazil; sport - judo, -70kg

  • Yusra Mardini (F)

  • Country of origin - Syria; host NOC - Germany; sport - swimming

  • Popole Misenga (M)

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  • Country of origin - Democratic Republic of the Congo; host NOC - Brazil; sport - judo, -90kg

  • (source: Olympic.org)

  • Congolese judokas Yolande Mabika and Popole Misenga will part of the #refugeeteam at #Rio2016 #OlympicGames #rdcongo

    A photo posted by Elvis Katoto 🎬 (@ekatoto) on

  • Upon unveiling the members of the team, IOC President Thomas Bach said, "These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem. We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes of the world. The Olympic anthem will be played in their honour and the Olympic flag will lead them into the Olympic Stadium."

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  • Bach continued, "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. It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society. These refugee athletes will show the world that despite the unimaginable tragedies that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talent, skills and strength of the human spirit."

  • Yusra. Swimmer. Syria. #TeamRefugees

    A photo posted by TeamRefugees (@teamrefugees) on

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  • As mentioned by Bach, the ROT will be officially represented through the Olympic flag and the Olympic anthem (including at potential medal ceremonies).

  • Like all other competing teams from the 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs), the ROT is housed in the Olympic Village together with the other 11,000 athletes.

  • In addition to team uniforms, the IOC has provided the ROT with a team entourage consisting of coaches and technical officials to meet all their needs.

  • Training, qualification, travel and other expenses for the ROT athletes are being covered by Olympic Solidarity. These same funds will be used to continue to help the refugee athletes after the games.

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  • This newly formed Refugee Olympic Team will bring public awareness to a global problem - one which many people don't even realize exists.

  • In our world today, "34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day as a result of conflict or persecution," according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

  • Other statistics show a total of 65.3 million people had been forcibly displaced worldwide by the end of 2015. Among these persons, 21.3 million are refugees, and more than half of these refugees are children.

  • The ROT encompasses everything the Olympics stands for: unity, diversity, equality and coming together as one. This team of individuals who have lost their homes is one we can all cheer for, and they represent a cause we should all be fighting for.

  • For additional information on refugees and what you can do to help, visit www.UNHCR.org.

  • Follow the Refugee Olympic Team on social media.

  • Instagram: teamrefugees

  • Facebook: @teamrefugees

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Alex recently graduated with a degree in public relations and is now working as an intern helping to produce content for FamilyShare.com. Apart from writing, he enjoys sports, backpacking and spending time with his amazing family.

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