SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) today announced the addition of Yusra Mardini to Team Visa Rio 2016. A competitive swimmer who grew up in Syria, Mardini’s journey to the Olympic Games took a turn one year ago when she fled to Greece with 20 others on a small inflatable dinghy. A few miles from the Grecian shore, the boat’s engine failed and Mardini and her sister, two of only three swimmers onboard, swam for three hours, pulling the boat to safety.
“I am honored to be joining Team Visa’s community of Olympic hopefuls on the road to Rio 2016,” said Yusra Mardini, 18, who now lives and trains in Germany with her family. “Since arriving in Berlin, I have been humbled by the warm welcome I’ve received from the swimming community and everyone associated with the Olympic Games. It means so much to me to have a partner that accepts me, includes me, and provides me with the same opportunities as other athletes competing in Rio.”
Since the program began in 2004, Team Visa has aimed to provide athletes with the tools, resources and support they need to reach their highest potential, regardless of origin or background. Olympic hopefuls representing Team Visa at Rio 2016 are selected based on their personal journeys to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, athletic achievements and community involvement. The Team Visa program connects Olympians, and those who follow the Olympic Games, to Visa’s values of acceptance, partnership and innovation.
“Our belief in the power of acceptance truly comes to life every two years through our Olympic partnership and the competitors that represent us at the Olympic Games,” said Chris Curtin, chief brand and innovation marketing officer, Visa Inc. “Team Visa embodies our belief that everyone, regardless of background, should be given the ability to reach their highest potential. We’re thrilled to welcome Yusra and to invite additional refugee Olympic athletes to join Team Visa’s incredible community.”
“I’m am so inspired by Yusra’s story, and thrilled to welcome her to Team Visa,” said Ashton Eaton, reigning Olympic decathlon champion. “The Olympics is all about bringing people together, and I’m so proud to stand with Yusra and the other Team Visa athletes in a powerful display of what acceptance can really look like on the world stage.”
Visa stands with the International Olympic Committee in supporting refugee athletes who seek to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Mardini is the second refugee athlete to partner with Visa to date, following Raheleh Asemani (Belgium, Taekwondo), who joined Team Visa in April, and who is now a citizen of Belgium. Visa will extend its Team Visa support to additional refugee Olympic athletes in the weeks to come.
A diverse group of athletes welcomes Mardini to Team Visa, including: Ibtihaj Muhammad (USA, Fencing), the first Muslim American woman to compete at the Olympics in a hijab; Terezinha Guilhermina, (Brazil, Paralympic Athletics), the world’s fastest blind woman; Chen Long (China, Badminton) and Olga Kharlan (Ukraine, Fencing), both Olympic Bronze medalists and two-time World Champions in their respective sports.
Visa’s commitment to the Olympic Movement began in 1986, and includes sponsorship of all Olympic Games from 1988 – 2020, along with more than 300 sponsored athletes through the Team Visa program.
Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions, and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable electronic payments. We operate one of the world’s most advanced processing networks — VisaNet — that is capable of handling more than 56,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and assured payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa’s innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit usa.visa.com/about-visa, visacorporate.tumblr.com and @VisaNews.