Since its launch, the third edition of the “Giving is Winning” Campaign has enjoyed enormous success. To date, more than half the target (100,000 items of clothing and sports equipment) has been reached.
This success would not be possible without the commitment of the donors, whether IFs, NOCs or athletes. This support was recognised today during a ceremony held at the Olympic Village in London in the presence of the IOC member and IOC Permanent Observer at the United Nations, Mario Pescante, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Antonio Guterres.
A trophy was thus presented to the National Olympic Committees of Australia, Singapore, Iran and Germany for their contribution to this campaign in support of refugees around the world. Their donations will reach women, men, girls and boys from South Sudan, Ethiopia and Bangladesh, three of the main destinations of the collection campaign at Games time. But more camps and countries will be supported as well.
An example of Olympic solidarity
Speaking on behalf of the IOC President, Mr Pescante observed that: “‘Giving is Winning’ is a perfect example of how Olympic solidarity materialises and how simple actions can make a difference to people’s lives.” Sport has the power to generate hope and joy among people, and with over 30 million refugees and internally displaced people in the world, every item of sports clothing collected will count. This is not going to change their difficult lives, but it will: “bring a sense that athletes here and the Olympic and sports movement in general think and care about their situation.”
The best example of this solidarity is certainly the presence in London of several athletes who know what it is like to be a refugee. Among them, the best known today is probably Guor Marial, who will participate as an Independent Olympic Athlete under the Olympic flag. Marial was born in what is now South Sudan, which does not currently have a recognised NOC. The athlete, who does not hold a passport from any country, is a permanent resident (refugee status green card) of the United States but not a citizen. As such, he is unable to compete for the United States, South Sudan or Sudan.
From refugees to citizens
Since the 2004 Athens Games, the IOC has partnered with the UNHCR and the Games Organising Committees to run this campaign, thus recognising the value of sport for human development. While presenting the trophy, Mr Guterres thanked deeply the donors reminding them: “You cannot imagine the joy of the people who get these sports clothes. 100’000 of them will have the chance to dream. For many young refugees the gift of sportswear associated with famous athletes from across the Olympic spectrum is a tremendous morale booster – a sign that the outside world does still care”, before adding: “They are refugees today but will one day be citizens in their community, and sport is a key to make this link.”