In anticipation of the first ever Global Refugee Forum to be held in Geneva on December 17–18, the International Olympic Committee and the world sports movement have promised to continue supporting refugees.
They expressed their readiness to encourage and ensure access for all refugees to safe and inclusive sports facilities, to promote equal participation of refugees in sporting events and competitions.
– The IOC has been supporting refugees around the world for many years. Most recently, together with UNHCR, we created the Olympic Asylum Fund. From this experience, we know that for children and young people affected by war or persecution, sport is more than just leisure. This is an opportunity to be protected, a chance to develop, grow, said Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee.
– The promises we make today confirm the commitment of the sports movement and key partners – from governments to NGOs – to supporting refugees. “I hope that more organizations will join us in preparation for the Global Refugee Forum,” he added.
Over 25 years of cooperation between the IOC and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, sports projects for refugees have been implemented in more than 45 countries. Together, the Olympic Asylum Fund was established, the goal of which is to create safe and affordable sports facilities in areas where there are refugees, migrants and displaced persons. After all, sports can be a positive tool for social cohesion and integration.
“We sincerely welcome these important commitments.” They demonstrate that the sports world supports refugees,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
The IOC created the first Olympic refugee team at the Rio 2016 Olympics, which inspired the world with the power of its human spirit.
The Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games held in Ashgabat in 2017 also featured a refugee team led by Tegla Lorupe, the legendary marathon runner from Kenya.
“Holding such events against the backdrop of world conflicts, confrontations, and the economic crisis is an important step in promoting solidarity and peace,” Tegla Lorupe wrote about the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in a letter to the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
Lorupe also expressed gratitude to the Turkmen leader for his proposed draft Declaration on Promoting the Olympic Contribution’s Great Contribution to Peace and Security, which was adopted in Geneva at the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council.
According to the Declaration, the UN Human Rights Council member countries welcome the participation of refugees and refugee teams in major international sporting events, which were first presented at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in 2016, at the World Championships in Athletics 4 – 13 August, 2017 in London, and then in Turkmenistan at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in 2017.
Refugee Olympic team will take part in Tokyo 2020.