UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have launched a pledge to provide sporting opportunities to young refugees. More than 80 entities – including National Olympic Committees, international sporting federations, national associations, clubs, and civil society organisations working through sport – are backing the pledge.
Recognizing the transformative power of sport, UNHCR has worked closely with the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF) and the IOC on this global initiative, ahead of the first-ever Global Refugee Forum in Geneva on 17 and 18 December, 2019.
The three pledges are:
- To promote and ensure access for all refugees, without distinction of any kind, to safe and inclusive sporting facilities.
- To increase availability and access to organized sports and sport-based initiatives for refugee and hosting communities, actively considering age, gender, ability and other diversity needs.
- To promote and facilitate equal access to and participation of refugees in sporting events and competitions at all levels.
“We wholeheartedly welcome these important commitments. They clearly demonstrate that the sporting world stands with refugees”, said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.
The President of the IOC, Thomas Bach, who will be presenting the pledges on behalf of the signatories at the upcoming Global Refugee Forum, also welcomed the support.
“Through sport, the IOC has been supporting refugees around the world for many years”, said the IOC President Thomas Bach.
”More recently, together with UNHCR, we created the Olympic Refuge Foundation. From this experience we know that for children and young people uprooted by war or persecution, sport is much more than a leisure activity. The pledges that we are making today reaffirm the commitment from the sports movement and key partners – from governments to NGOs – to play their part in supporting refugees.”
Those making pledges include World Athletics, International Judo Federation, the Football Associations of England, Ireland and Bangladesh, the football clubs AS Roma and AC Milan as well as Olympic Committees from 12 countries.
Among the pledging organisations are also three SPIN partners, namely FAI, UISP and VIDC-fairplay.
The signatories are also calling for sports organizations around the world to join them in offering sporting opportunities to refugee and internally displaced young people, especially those living in their communities.
The Hellenic Paralympic Committee (HPC) and AGITOS Foundations, two partners of the ERASMUS+ project STEADY - Sports as a Tool for Empowerment of (Dis)Abled & Displaced Youth are holding a side event on the need for the social inclusion of disabled refugees in and through sport.
The full list of entities pledging and their joint statement can be found here.
The Global Compact on Refugees, the international framework for strengthened cooperation and solidarity with refugees and affected host countries, specifically recognizes the contribution of sport and sporting entities in the protection and well-being of refugees and the internally displaced. The sporting commitments along with other contributions will be highlighted at the forthcoming Global Refugee Forum.