Rami Anis, a Syrian who will be competing for the Refugee Olympic Team at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, says that he hopes “that at Tokyo 2020 there will be no refugee team.”
Anis, since being forced to flee the ongoing wars in Syria, has been training in Belgium under the eye of coach Karen van Bouwen. He is one of two swimmers competing as part of a 10-member Refugee Olympic Team (the other being Yusra Mardini). The team will be given special support by the IOC as part of their endeavor.
Anis swam a week ago at the French Open, which is likely his final competition before a training camp leading into the Rio Olympics. His highest finish was 8th in the B-Final of the 100 fly, the event he will swim in Rio. His times from the meet:
- 50 fly – 26.08
- 100 fly – 55.87(p)/56.14(f)
- 200 fly – 2:10.43
In a video posted on the team’s Facebook page, Anis describes the situation he left in Syria and why he left it, but also gives a message of hope for the future. He says that he’s trying to paint a positive image of refugees throughout the world, in contrast to the negative images that have been posted in many countries around the world after refugees have flooded their borders fleeing wars in the Middle East and Asia.
“I left Syria in 2011. The situation was very dangerous. There were bombings everywhere and life was unbearable. The situation was very dangerous and did not allow me to stay in the country, so I decided to leave. Since the start of the war in Syria, I could not participate in many competitions. I waited for 5 years until this opportunity came to me. Now I have the chance to train well and my goal is to compete at the 2016 Rio Games.
My coach is Karen Van Bouwen and she is one of the best coaches in Belgium. She is an Olympic champion.
Of course it is a very nice idea to have the support of the International Olympic Committee for the refugee athletes. Without their support we would not be able to compete in such a significant event as the Olympics. All eyes will be on the refugee team because it will be the first event of its kind in history. I hope to convey a positive image of the world’s refugees. I hope that at Tokyo 2020 there will be no refugee team, as I hope for all wars to end and that all athletes will be able to compete in the name of their country. The Syrians with Syria. The Iraqis with Iraq. For athletes to go back participating with their own countries as all the wars are over.