SYRIAN brothers Mohamad and Alaa Maso are competing for two different teams at Tokyo 2020.
Mohamad, 28, raced in the triathlon on Monday under the Syria flag.
But his younger brother Alaa, 21, is in the swimming and representing the refugee Olympic team.
And a photo of the pair hugging at the opening ceremony has gone viral.
The brothers grew up in Syria together and were both taught from an early age by their father.
But with war tearing the country apart, Mohamad and Alaa left Aleppo in 2015 to make the journey to Europe and have not seen their parents since.
They travelled through Turkey, Greece, North Macedonia, Serbia and Austria before settling first in the Netherlands then moved to Germany the following year.
But despite Mohamad choosing the country of their birth, Alaa opted for the refugee squad.
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Syrian sports federation communications manager Safwan al-Hindi said: “The photo has taken on a scale that we couldn’t have imagined.
“Mohamad and Alaa live together in Germany. They arrived together in Tokyo. A lot of their family still lives in Syria.
“The embrace was a spontaneous gesture between two brothers. But some media and social networks took the story in another direction.”
Mohamad finished 47th in the triathlon earlier on Monday, as Brit Alex Yee claimed silver.
Alaa opens his Olympics campaign in the 50m freestyle at the aquatics centre on Friday.
Speaking to olympics.com about his involvement at the Games for the refugee team, the younger Maso sibling said: “It means a lot that the world has stopped seeing refugees as a problem and recognise them as real human beings who have overcome a lot.
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“I’m really thankful for swimming because I really don’t know what I would have done without swimming.
“The situation [in Syria] was always sinking and never rising up.
“I am swimmer, and there’s no safety there are no reasons to continue our sport. No championships of the country, nothing.”
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