Life jackets inspire refugee Olympic flag design

Syrian designer Yara Said has created an orange and black flag, representing the life jackets worn by migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea, for the Refugee Olympic Team which is taking part in Rio 2016

Newly formed organisation Refugee Nation commissioned the flag in hopes it would be used by the team – the first group of Olympic competitors to consist entirely of refugees.

Said, a refugee now living in Amsterdamm said she used black and orange to represent the colour of life jackets worn when making dangerous sea crossings.

“Black and orange is a symbol of solidarity for all those who crossed the sea in search of a new country,” said Said. “I myself wore one, which is why I so identify with these colours and these people.”

During the opening ceremony, the 10 athletes from four different countries walked under the Olympic flag to the Olympic anthem. Although the refugee team will continue to compete under the Olympic flag during Rio, Refugee Nation hopes the flag will become part of the team’s identity for future games.

Started by Amnesty International together with refugees, the organisation also produced an anthem, which was written by composer and Syrian refugee Moutaz Arian.

“By giving these athletes a sense of national team, a flag and an anthem to call their own, we’re sending a powerful message to all the refugees in the world,” said a spokesperson from Amnesty International. “We’re saying that every human being has the right to have a place to call home.”

The competing athletes are Syrian swimmers Rami Anis and Yusra Mardini; South Sudanese runners Yiech Pur Biel, James Nyang Chiengjiek, Anjelina Nada Lohalith, Rose Nathike Lokonyen and Paulo Amotun Lokoro; Ethiopian marathon runner Yonas Kinde; and Congolese judokas Yolande Bukasa Mabika and Popole Misenga.

Six of the 10 have already competed and although no medals have been won they have received huge applause from spectators