The United States Olympics team has chosen former refugee from Sudan and Team Darfur member Lopez Lomong to carry the flag at the Olympics opening ceremony, AFP reports.
Lomong, 23, who qualified in the 1,500m on the final day of the US trials last month, was chosen as the flag-bearer on Wednesday, when U.S. captains in every sport met at the Olympic Village to vote.
The decision comes days after Olympic gold-medalist Joey Cheek, the founder of Team Darfur, a group of global athletes who work to raise awareness of the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, had his visa to visit China revoked.
Lomong became a U.S. citizen in 2007, after being taken from his home by militia at the age of 6. He escaped with other children, but ran for three days through the wilderness, evading soldiers and wild animals, before reaching Kenya.
"It's just a happy day. I don't even have the words to describe how happy I am," Lomong said about being chosen to carry the flag during Friday's ceremony. "This is another amazing step for me in celebrating being an American. Seeing my fellow Americans coming behind me and supporting me will be a great honor — the highest honor."
China has close ties with Sudan as one of the main buyers of the African nation's oil and a key investor in its economy. Rights groups like Team Darfur have accused the country of not doing enough to try and resolve the conflict in the Darfur region.