South Sudan becomes 206th Olympic member

sudan_yes_we_canSouth Sudan on Sunday became the 206th Olympic member four years after independence, allowing the war-ravaged African nation to take part in the Rio Olympics next year.

Delegates from South Sudan and even from rival Sudan fought back tears as the International Olympic Committee accepted the country by acclaim at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

The country has been gripped by civil war for 19 months and the conditions have made it virtually impossible for athletes to train properly. It had to wait four years to join the Olympic movement because it struggled to form five internationally recognised sports federations.

However marathon runner Guor Marial finished 47th in the London 2012 Olympics where he competed under the Olympic flag.

Teenager Margrat Rumat Hasan took part in the Youth Olympics in Nanjing in China this year, coming 16th in the women’s 400 metres.

Wilson Deng Kuoirot, a top army officer who is South Sudan’s first national Olympic committee president, said the country was joining “with a sense of honour and great humility”.

“Over the past few months my young country underwent tremendous challenges of internal armed conflict.

“However we firmly believe that this historic day of acceptance into the IOC is going to be a milestone and a great vehicle for promoting reconciliation,” he added.

South Sudan broke with Sudan in 2011 but IOC leaders praised Sudanese sports officials for helping the South obtain membership of the global body.

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