Olympic family amasses sports clothes to give to refugees
To fill 10 containers – each 20-foot wide – with a total of about 60, 000 sports clothes for refugees and displaced people in UNHCR camps all across the globe: this is the objective of the “Giving is Winning” campaign, 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 bring hope and joy into refugee camps. IOC President Jacques Rogge started the ball rolling by handing over a bag full of sports clothes to Marion Hoffmann, UNHCR representative for Mexico, Cuba and Central America, during today’s official launch ceremony.
This campaign follows a successful first edition, in which close to 30,000 items were collected during the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Hoffmann recalls: “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 sports rubbed off on them and made them feel important.” 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. Our ambitious objective is to collect 10 containers – each 20-foot wide – and distribute them to refugees in 10 different camps”.
First organisations on board
Indeed, there is good reason for optimism among the project partners. Three National Olympic Committees (NOCs) are already on board and have made donations to refugee camps in Chad and Rwanda. Many more members of the Olympic family - such as athletes, officials, and sponsors - have eagerly expressed their wish to get involved. Every item counts and is appreciated, and the IOC President concluded: “We will continue, through different activities, to assist those who are ravaged by war and disease, 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.”
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