Okay, despite the best efforts of NBC, I’m trying not to get too caught up in the hype surrounding the Olympics. But, there is so much symbolism in the choice of the U.S. flag bearer:
Sudanese refugee Lopez Lomong was chosen by his U.S. Olympic teammates Wednesday to be the American delegation’s flag-bearer at Friday’s Opening Ceremonies, a move that will cast an additional spotlight on the controversy over humanitarian abuses in Sudan’s embattled Darfur region as the Beijing Games begin.
The announcement of the vote by U.S. Olympic team captains came just hours after the Chinese government rescinded the visa of 2006 Olympic speedskating gold medalist Joey Cheek, the co-founder of Team Darfur, a group of athletes that aims to raise awareness about the conflict in Sudan and has been pressing China to do more to help end the fighting.
Lomong is an active member of the organization. “This is the most exciting day ever in my life,” Lomong, 23, said in a statement. “It’s a great honor for me that my teammates chose to vote for me. I’m here as an ambassador of my country, and I will do everything I can to represent my country well.”
Cheek, who carried the U.S. flag at the Closing Ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, said he was “thrilled” by Lomong’s selection. “I was more thrilled by it than I imagined I would have been,” Cheek said by telephone. “It just seems incredibly relevant. . . . Every time I think I can’t be prouder of U.S. Olympians, those guys find a way to outdo themselves.”
It is very powerful. And, not only Darfur. This is a great story about refugees and immigrants who come to the United States. What do the immigrant bashers have to say?