The Marathoner Without a Country

You may have noticed during the Parade of Nations that four Olympic athletes are participating under the Olympic banner instead of their country's flag. Three are from the Netherlands Antilles, a nation which was dissolved in 2010. The other athlete is 28-year-old marathon runner Guor Marial. Marial was born in what is now South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, but was then Sudan. He became a refugee of the Sudanese conflict in 1993 when he was only nine years old, as he fled across border after border fleeing the violence. Marial was granted asylum in the U.S. in 2001, and is a permanent resident here. An All-American cross-country runner and an accomplished marathoner, Marial rejected an offer from the Sudan Olympic Committee to run under its flag at the London Olympics.
"Never," he said of his refusal to run for Sudan. "For me to even consider that is a betrayal. My family lost 28 members in the war with Sudan. Millions of my people were killed by Sudan forces. I can only forgive, but I cannot honor and glorify a country that killed my people."

Since he cannot run for his country, and does not have a South Sudanese passport, the International Olympic Committee granted him permission to run as an independent.

The decision means he will carry the Olympic flag, wear a uniform that has no emblem of any nation and if he wins, the Olympic hymn will play, he said. Not South Sudan's. Not the United States'.

"The fact that I will be in the Olympics means a lot not just to me, but to my country, which has gone through so much," he said in a phone call from Flagstaff, Arizona, where he is training. "Even if I am not going to carry or wear the flag, I will be the flag of my nation. South Sudan will be in my heart."

Read Marial's story at CNN. Link

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More people learned about the nation of South Sudan last night than the entire first year of its existance. Probably by an order of magnitude, if not two.
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I prefer this way of doing things to the alternatives.

One would be to prevent anybody who didn't have a local olympic committee from taking part. The other would be to have them run under a flag of convenience for any country that would have them.

The former is totally unfair. The latter may deprive somebody else of a place.
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