- 11 Dec 2017
- Olympic News
Olympic Refuge Foundation holds first Board meeting and prepares for safe spaces for sport in 2018
The Foundation’s Board met in Lausanne, Switzerland, for the first time to officially introduce its members and prepare the first pilot projects supporting refugees through sport that will be implemented in 2018.
Playing sport in a safe environment is not a right granted to everyone around the world, especially for the more than 65 million refugees and internally displaced people worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes because of war or persecution.
Working in cooperation with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Olympic Refuge Foundation, launched in September at the IOC Session in Lima, will support projects across the world to create safe, basic and accessible sports facilities and develop sporting activities for vulnerable people. Projects, which will use sport as a pathway to social, physical and emotional wellbeing, will take a community-based approach.
During the Foundation's first-ever Board meeting, chaired by IOC President Thomas Bach, the operational framework and scope of activities were approved, allowing the Foundation to go forward with the creation of the first safe spaces. Starting in early 2018, the Foundation, in close collaboration with UNHCR and with the relevant international partners and local authorities on the ground, will start the implementation of programmes and allocating grants through the generous donations of Olympic Movement partners, governmental institutions and private donors.
The Olympic Refuge Foundation is providing a unique opportunity to increase the understanding of sport as a positive factor for protecting and supporting vulnerable people. Based on knowledge and evidence, the Olympic Refuge Foundation will create tools, policies and resources that will contribute to delivering effective programmes. It will also leverage the Olympic Movement's considerable network in order to advocate the adoption of policies related to the potential of sport as an agent for change.
The members of the Foundation Board were formally introduced. They are a group of individuals who share the belief in the power of sport to make the world a better place and who have concretely demonstrated it through their interest and experience.
Mr Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner of UNHCR;
Mr Zaiqing Yu, IOC Vice-President;
HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al-Thani, President of the National Olympic Committee of Qatar;
Dr Chungwon Choue, President of World Taekwondo and the Taekwondo Humanitarian Federation; and
Mr Yiech Pur Biel, member of the first Refugee Olympic Team at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
During the meeting, IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge was appointed as Honorary Member of the Foundation. The former Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Youth Refugees and Sport has advocated tirelessly around the world the benefits that sport can bring to young refugees and supported the direct implementation of sports programmes in Jordan, Ethiopia, Colombia and Rwanda.
The creation of the Foundation is a major initiative which stems from the strong and longstanding engagement of the IOC in social development through sport. This engagement has materialised, in particular, through the partnership between the IOC and UNHCR, which dates back 1994. Through this cooperation, sports programmes have been implemented in various camps and refugee communities around the world, addressing the needs for basic sports equipment, and the rehabilitation of sports facilities, in close to 50 countries.