Giving is Winning lifted to new heights
The IOC's latest Giving is Winning campaign has been lifted to new heights with more than double the results of the first edition organised during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Some 75,000 items of casual and sports clothing, which corresponds to 16 containers, were collected from the Olympic Family in the run-up to and during the Olympic Games in Beijing. In the Olympic Village alone, athletes, team members and officials donated more than 21,000 items.
The project was jointly implemented by the IOC and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with the aim of facilitating sports activities in refugee camps. The UNHCR has distributed the collected clothes to various camps in Europe, Asia and Africa. For refugees, sport can provide a semblance of normality, hope and structure to lives that have been disrupted by conflict. Feedback from the ground has shown that, especially for young refugees, the gift of sportswear associated with famous athletes is a tremendous morale-booster and a sign that the outside world does still care.
Reacting to the news about the final numbers, Mr António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, expressed his gratitude to the Olympic Family. “On behalf of the UNHCR and the nearly 32 million people of concern to this office, I would like to express my appreciation and commend those Olympic athletes and National Olympic Committees from around the world who, during a moment of immense concentration and focus, took the time to help those less fortunate. Contributions, in the form of sports clothing, have been distributed to refugees around the world, providing them with the opportunity to play.”
IOC President Jacques Rogge was equally pleased with the success of the project, which he has personally supported along with his IOC colleagues: “I am thrilled by this success and the strong support of the Olympic Family. This campaign is an excellent example of how the IOC and its partners can easily help sport bring a little joy to people living very difficult lives. Sport has given a lot to all of us and who would not be happy to give back? Participation is made really easy and this makes the campaign's success. We will continue using sport as a tool to assist those whose lives are ravaged by war and disease and who are disadvantaged and marginalised.”
Stunning contributions from athletes and NOCs
Athletes and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) have been amongst the most eager donors. The British Olympic Association and the US Olympic Committee set the ball rolling with huge donations in summer 2007. The NOC of Singapore soon followed with a donation that included items from local school children.
A number of NOCs were very innovative in encouraging their athletes to donate. The German NOC developed a special “athlete passport” that also dedicated one section to “Giving is Winning”, appealing to everyone to join in the campaign. Thomas Bach, President of the German NOC and IOC Vice-President stated in Beijing: “I am very happy that our athletes were so keen to donate. What a great opportunity to be giving and winning at the same time”.
Two other major donors were the Australian Olympic Committee and the President of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), Mario Vázquez Raña. Vázquez Raña donated thousands of new polo shirts which benefitted refugees in Africa.
Financial donations from IOC member HRH Princess Haya bint Al Hussein and the NOC of the United Arab Emirates helped to fund project operations.