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Humanitarian assistance through sport


Bringing joy and hope in refugee camps

The IOC and the UNHCR have worked together since 1996 on sports projects for refugee camps and resettlement areas around the world. Basic sports equipment and recreational activities are offered to these deprived populations, composed mostly of children and young people who are particularly in need of leisure activities to overcome the idleness of their life in a camp. Sports activities are also organised to facilitate dialogue between refugees and local communities surrounding the camps. National Olympic Committees of the countries in which refugee camps are situated are, as much as possible, also associated with the projects. There are currently over 20 million refugees, internally displaced persons, and returning refugees in the world.

“Ravaged by war and disease, deprived and marginalised, much of the world’s population can benefit from the role sport plays in building a safe, more prosperous and peaceful society. Let’s open our team to refugees across the globe and share the joy of sport!” Jacques Rogge, IOC President

Fighting sexual-gender based violence through sport is another area of intervention. Through this programme, the targeted youths learn an enhanced sense of team play, leadership, cooperation and decision-making skills, and become knowledgeable on sexual gender-based violence including sexual exploitation. Working together on a team with a common goal to succeed athletically is at the core of this process to facilitate behaviour changes.

Giving is winning

Giving is Winning is a joint IOC-UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) programme that is organised in the run-up to the Summer Olympic Games. Through this initiative, National Olympic Committees, Federations, sponsors, Recognised Organisations, athletes, members and supporters of the Olympic Movement have donated important quantities of unused sports and casual clothes, which have been distributed by the UNHCR to various refugee camps around the globe. Since this campaign was successfully launched for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, over 100,000 of items of clothing, or close to 22 containers, have reached people in need in 14 countries. 

“Many young refugees spend years languishing in bleak camps around the world. For them, 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” Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 

Learn more about UNHCR
Learn more about the Giving is Winning project 

Support to major humanitarian crises

In parallel to its current programmes of humanitarian sports assistance, the IOC also supports, on an ad-hoc basis, important relief operations through donations of first aid and sports goods for populations affected by war, natural disasters and major catastrophes. As for most other IOC projects at community level, the NOCs of countries concerned are also involved in these initiatives. 

Among the recent initiatives, the IOC made a special donation of humanitarian equipment including tents, blankets, buckets, soap and sandals in Darfur, Sudan, through the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

It also supported the relief of tsunami victims in South-Eastern Asia through a donation to the ICRC and to the local sport community.

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