Giving is winning on its countdown to Beijing
On the occasion of today’s World Refugee Day, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is determined to boost its successful “Giving is Winning” campaign for the final stage in the run-up to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Giving is Winning is a joint IOC-UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) project with a simple concept: members and supporters of the Olympic Movement donate sports and casual clothes which will then be distributed by the UNHCR to various refugee camps. The IOC and the UNHCR have worked together since 1996 on sports projects for refugee camps and resettlement areas around the world.
Several National Olympic Committees (NOCs) have been among the latest donors to "Giving is Winning". Their donations benefit refugees across the globe, be it in Moldova, Georgia, Tanzania, Chad or Burundi. The clothes are mostly used to facilitate sports activities in the camps. For refugees, sport can provide a semblance of normality, hope and structure to lives that are in disarray. Experience 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.
Joy – on both sides
The project offers "a fantastic opportunity to put surplus gear to a good use," said Irish long-distance race walker Jamie Costin, a veteran of the Sydney 2000 Games who contributed to the collection of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) for refugees in Georgia.
A female refugee from Armenia thanked the NOC of Singapore “for trying to make our life easier here in Moldova…We express gratitude from the bottom of our heart to Singapore state because it has such kind people ready to help in difficult moments." The NOC of Singapore shipped its first batch of clothing and sports gear out in December to Moldova, aiming for a Christmas delivery. Now, the country’s sports community and schools are getting another shipment in recognition of World Refugee Day. Some 111 boxes have already been filled with a whopping 6,528 donated items as of late May, thanks to an all-out campaign by Singapore’s youngest humanitarians - schoolchildren.
With an overall strategy of international and national social responsibility and partnership, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has donated more than 5,000 items for refugees in Chad. "On behalf of the USOC and our athletes, we commend the IOC and the UNHCR for their work on this important initiative," said Peter Ueberroth, USOC President. "One of the guiding principles of the worldwide Olympic Movement is the spirit of giving, and we are proud to have the opportunity to contribute to this worthwhile programme."
Countdown to Beijing
Close to 30,000 items were collected during a successful first Giving is Winning campaign at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. This time the IOC started the second campaign ahead of the Games, with the objective of collecting 50,000 items. Having already almost reached this objective now, this idea has been proved right. The peak is to be reached at Games time, when athletes and other delegation members can offer their surplus of clothes in the Olympic Village. Every item counts: a new global survey says there were 11.4 million refugees outside their countries and 26 million others displaced internally by conflict or persecution at the end of 2007, contributing to an unprecedented number of uprooted people under the care of the UN refugee agency.