Team to compete under Olympic flag
As the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, are set to open this week, The Salvation Army announced its support of Team Refugees—individuals from Africa and the Middle East who will be competing in 2016 under the Olympic flag.
“The Salvation Army is deeply concerned that millions and millions of people are today displaced from their homes by conflict and persecution. This global tragedy is not receiving enough attention. Solutions are needed now,” said Lt. Colonel Dean Pallant, Director of the International Social Justice Commission based in New York City to liaise with the UN. “Amid the misery and suffering, the participation of 10 world-class refugee athletes in the Rio 2016 Olympics is a reminder that refugees are people with abilities, skills and God-given talents.’
Ten top athletes, forced by conflict and persecution to flee their homes, will represent the more than 65 million people displaced around the world as an initiative developed by UNICEF and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, in partnership with many other agencies.
“The International Social Justice Commission encourages everyone to support the all-refugee team as a small sign of our support for all the women, men, girls and boys who are refugees and asylum seekers,” Pallant said.
Meanwhile, more than 100 Salvation Army volunteers are gathering in Rio to undertake mission activities in venues across the city. With international team members representing countries as far afield as Australia, Iceland and Canada, sport will be the common language as the life-changing message of the gospel is taken to the favelas.
Vânia Quintão is a Salvationist from Niterói who is keen to be participating in August’s mission. She was part of similar outreach campaigns at the Pan American Games in 2007 and at a number of Rio’s famous carnivals.
“I am looking forward to the arrival of the Olympic Games and being part of this great team of volunteers,” she said. “I believe [this] is a strategic way…to fulfill our mission as The Salvation Army.”
Méier Corps Officer Captain Ionara Tebas says it’s an opportunity to visit people who might need help.
“We go to them and get to know the whole family,” Tebas said.
As well as meeting practical and spiritual needs, The Salvation Army’s Rio 2016 mission seeks to extend some of the fun and enjoyment of the sporting spectacle to these communities. Musical performances, dance events and even treasure hunts are planned to ensure that entire families can participate.
See more about The Salvation Army’s ongoing response to the refugee situation in Europe at sar.my/europerefugees.