The winning nomination, “which combines the highest values of sport,” was submitted by Juan Antonio Samaranch, Vice-President of the International Olympic Committee, and was placed on the nomination of Carolina Marin, Simone Biles and Marc Marquez, among others.
The Foundation and the Refugee Olympic Team were honored this Wednesday with the 2022 Princess of Asturias Award for Sport. The jury, chaired by former athlete Abel Anton, decided to award the award to the Foundation and the team set up by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights “to provide an opportunity for athletes in conflict zones.” and places where human rights are violated for the exercise of their sporting and personal activities. “The Refugee Olympic Team brings together the highest values of sport, such as integration, education, solidarity and humanity, and represents a message of hope to the world,” highlighted the Princess of Asturias sports lecturer, who are also among the 24 nominees, Carolina Marin, Simone Biles, Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi and Alison Felix.
The Refugee Olympic Team competed for the first time at the Rio 2012 Games, with ten athletes representing Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria and South Sudan participating in athletics, judo and swimming. At last year’s Tokyo 2020 Games, the award-winning team consisted of 29 athletes, from 13 national committees, who competed in 12 disciplines. The winners succeed Paralympic swimmer Teresa Perales in the winners list for Princess of Asturias of Sport. The winning bid for the 2022 edition was submitted by Juan Antonio Samaranch Salisac, Vice President of the International Olympic Committee, and supported by, among others, Pau Gasol.
According to IOC leader Thomas Bach, who is also chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, the winners “aim to be a symbol of hope for all refugees in the world”, as well as “to raise awareness of one of the most important crises facing the international community and to use sport as a vehicle for humanitarian assistance, cooperation and development affected by conflicts at the international level.
The Olympic Refugee Foundation works with international organizations, private sector companies, NGOs and other foundations to create and promote collaborative programs through sport. To date, about 200,000 young people have benefited from its projects in eight countries: Colombia, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Turkey and Uganda.
The Foundation is also responsible for the Refugee Olympic Team, which was set up by the International Olympic Committee in 2015, when the highest body of the various National Committees, in cooperation with UNHCR, asked to identify refugee athletes whose level of athleticism had the potential to qualify for the Games. In order for them to have the opportunity to do so through scholarship funding from the Olympic Solidarity Aid Project. The refugee team has the same consideration as any other team participating in the Olympic Games.
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