Olympian with no country won’t march in Opening Ceremony, still waiting on visa

Maggie Hendricks

Guor Marial, the South Sudanese marathoner who will run under the Olympic flag in London, will not be at the Opening Ceremony on Friday. In fact, he's still in Arizona, waiting for his paperwork to clear so he can get to London in time for the marathon on Aug. 12.

"It will be special. I will be included," he told USA Today of the Opening Ceremony. "It's going to be unfortunate because the South Sudan people are expecting to see me. They are going to be disappointed. But I will feel like I am there."

[ Realted: Sudan runner seeks asylum ]

Marial fled to the United States when he was 16. Now 28, he is a permanent resident of the U.S., but the Olympics require athletes to be a citizen of the countries they represent. Since South Sudan is just a year old, the African country doesn't yet have a national organizing committee, which is also a requirement for representation in the Olympics.

Since he ran the qualifying time for the Olympics, the IOC decided to let him run under the Olympic flag. He hopes to get his visa to get to London next week so he can represent the Olympics, the U.S. and South Sudan.

"I will be wearing the Olympic uniform jersey, but inside I will be a symbol of South Sudan's flag, hanging in the Olympic stadium."

Marial also mentioned the refugees who never made it and all the Americans who helped him. "So right now, I have three countries I have to be a symbol for."

He won't be the only native of the South Sudan to compete in the Olympics. Luol Deng, the Chicago Bulls player, will play basketball for Great Britain. His family fled what is now the South Sudan when he was a child. Both men still have great love for their country of birth, and hope to inspire them through the Olympics.

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