Guor Marial, a refugee of the Sudanese civil war and native to the newly independent Republic of South Sudan has been granted permission to participate in the London Olympics. His status was in question for some time because the Republic of South Sudan has not yet set up a national Olympic committee and is thus not recognized by the IOC. The IOC recently granted Marial's request to participate as an independent and will race under the Olympic flag.
The IOC approval of Marial as an independent athlete means he will appear in the race - and Friday's opening ceremony, if he can get to London in time - in clothing that does not have any flag or national identification.
"I am fine with that because I will be carrying South Sudan and its flag in my heart," Marial said. "All South Sudan will see me, and it will give my country hope in the world community."
Getting to London may still be a problem for Marial, however, because he does not have a passport.
Initially, the IOC was trying to find a way for Marial to compete under the Sudanese flag, but this posed idealogical and legal problems for Marial. It would have jeopardized his refugee status and application for U.S. citizenship and, as Marial himself said, "[i]t's not right for me to represent the country I refuged from."
South Sudanese marathoner gets into Olympics as independent athlete [Chicago Tribune]
For South Sudanese marathoner, Olympics would be the ultimate refuge [Chicago Tribune]