South Sudanese athlete Guor Marial will be the first athlete from the world’s youngest nation to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games. However, he will run under the Olympic flag, as the one year old South Sudan does not yet have a national Olympic body.
Marial fled from Sudan to the USA 11 years ago to escape the conflict in the country. Last year, South Sudan split from Sudan. Marial does not hold US citizenship and rejected an offer to run under the Sudanese flag, saying “he can only forgive, but cannot honour and glorify a country that killed my people.”
The Olympic Committee has granted him permission to run as an independent. This means he will carry the Olympic flag, wear a uniform with no nation emblem and, should he win, the Olympic hymn will play.
Marial is not the first person to run under the Olympic flag: in both the 1992 Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics, competitors from former Soviet Union formed the Unified Team, and competed under the Olympic flag. In 2000, East Timor athletes also participated under the Olympic flag.
Marial will compete alongside South African athletes Lusapho April, Stephen Mokoka and Coolboy Piet Ngamole in the men’s marathon on 12 August.
For more information on Guor Marial, visit the CNN website.