"Now you can show your strength" UN chief to refugee team in Rio

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) meets with Refugee Olympic Team in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: Twitter @UN_Spokesperson

The 10 members of the Refugee Olympic Team have continued to break new ground ahead of Friday's opening ceremony, and on Thursday it was the turn of the UN chief to pay his respects in Rio.

"Now you can show your strength" Ban Ki-moon told them, adding that when they appear at the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Friday, around 3 billion people will be watching around the world.

Matthew Wells has more.

The members of the first-ever Refugee team have been celebrated in the Brazilian city hosting the games all week.

They thanked both the International Olympic Commission and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, for helping to bring them to Rio.

The team comprises of two Syrian swimmers; two jodokas from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; a marathon runner from Ethiopia, and five middle-distance runners from South Sudan.

The Secretary-General told them that they were already an inspiration to the world.

"Now you can show your strength, your capacity, to run faster and become stronger. I am sure you will be very much appreciated, very much applauded by world people. At least 3 billion people will watch you tomorrow night."

At their first press conference earlier, one of the Syrian contenders, Yusra Mardini spoke from the heart, about the home she's lost, at least for now.  

"I want to tell everyone that I really missed Damascus, in the beginning. I am going to go back one day. I want everyone to think of their dreams, because a lot of people there forgot their dreams. I hope everyone will follow their dreams to achieve something good in their futures."

Among the refugee athletes greeting the UN chief, was Rose Nathike Lokonyen, forced to flee her homeland of South Sudan. The 800 metre runner is due to be the team's flagbearer, at Friday's opening ceremony.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'25″

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