The Independent Olympic Athletes Are The Cutest Olympic Athletes

There’s really no question about who was having the most fun at the Olympics’ Opening Ceremony on Friday: It was clearly the three adorable people representing the Independent Olympic Athletes. Liemarvin Bonevacia, Reginald De Windt and Philipine van Aanholt are all from the Netherlands Antilles, a collection of Caribbean islands that lost its independent statehood in 2010. Three of the islands merged into the Netherlands, while another two are now considered “constituent countries.” Unfortunately, the IOC, the governing body for the Olympics, ruled that the Antilles’ new status made it impossible for them to compete under an independent moniker.

A fourth athlete, marathoner Guor Marial, is competing for South Sudan, a country that just became independent in 2011 and was unable to set up a National Olympic Committee in time. Marial had apparently refused to compete in the Olympics under the Sudan flag, as several members of his family had been killed by the Sudanese regime. A visa problem — Marial trains in the U.S. — prevented him from attending the Opening Ceremony, but he should make it in time for his competition.

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