IOC and UNHCR team up to help refugees
The “Giving is Winning” campaign, to collect clothes for distribution in refugee camps across the globe, kicked off today at the 119th IOC Session in Guatemala City. As a joint IOC-UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) initiative in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, “Giving is Winning” aims to:
- fill 10 containers – each 20-foot wide – with a total of roughly 60, 000 sports clothes donated by all Olympic Movement stakeholders
- distribute the collected clothes to refugees in 10 camps in different continents
- thereby help to bring a little joy to refugees through sport.
IOC President Jacques Rogge started the ball rolling during today’s official launch ceremony by handing over a bag full of sports clothes to Marion Hoffmann, UNHCR representative for Mexico, Cuba and Central America.
The 2008 “Giving is Winning” campaign aims to be at least as successful as the one run during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, when nearly 30, 000 items of sports clothing were collected and subsequently distributed to refugees across three continents.
On launching the initiative, IOC President Jacques Rogge said: “We will continue, through different activities, to assist those who are torn apart by wars and diseases, disadvantaged and marginalised. This campaign is an excellent example of how the IOC and its partners can help sport bring a little joy to people living very difficult lives.”
Mario Pescante, IOC Executive Board member and Chairman of the IOC’s International Relations Commission, under which the initiative is run, said: “The success of what we did in Athens has inspired us to do even better this time around. That’s why we want to get started even earlier and are launching the collection now, a year ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Three National Olympic Committees have already signed up. Their donations will help refugees in camps in Rwanda and Chad.”
Marion Hoffmann underlined: "We have seen in the course of the first “Giving is Winning” Campaign in Athens in 2004, just what difference the Olympic Games made to the daily lives of the refugees. Youngsters living in camps in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Tanzania and Azerbaijan were tremendously proud. They organised celebrations and even their own ‘Olympic Games’. For once, they felt they were not forgotten. For once, the glory of sport rubbed off on them and made them feel important."