18 Feb 2021
The Chair of the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF), Thomas Bach, and Roxana Maracineanu, the French Minister for Sport, signed an agreement in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Monday 15 February 2021 confirming France’s financial support for the work of the ORF.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has supported refugees through sport since 1994, in partnership with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). In 2016, the first-ever IOC Refugee Olympic Team took part in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and Olympic Solidarity continues to provide support to more than 50 refugee athletes from all over the world through scholarships.
The founding of the ORF in 2017 by the IOC marked the start of a new chapter in the IOC’s ongoing support for refugees through sport. The ORF uses sport to protect and support young people affected by the displacement of populations worldwide, and believes in a society where everyone can find their place thanks to sport. Currently, 200,000 young people in six countries are benefiting from sports programmes designed to improve their well-being and social inclusion. The ORF also works alongside more than 80 organisations as part of the Sport for Refugees Coalition to improve access to sport.
“This agreement will enable the ORF to achieve its goal of expanding into urban areas and in this way reach not only refugees and migrants, but also their host communities building solidarity,” said ORF Chair and IOC President Bach. “I would like to thank in particular President Emmanuel Macron, who was the initiator of this support for the Olympic Refuge Foundation on the French side, and his government.”
“I am convinced that sport is a powerful tool for integration and emancipation,” said Roxana Maracineanu. “I’m also proud that, looking ahead to Paris 2024, the French government is working hand-in-hand with the IOC’s Foundation to support – through sport – migrants and refugees hosted in our country.”
The ORF has been working for several months, in collaboration with the French Ministry of Sport, Paris 2024, the City of Paris and a number of French and international NGOs, to support refugees through sport in France, with a view to launching an initial activities programme in the Paris region during the course of 2021.
The goal of the ORF is to provide one million young people affected by displacement with access to sport by 2024.
The International Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit, civil, non-governmental, international organisation made up of volunteers which is committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the wider sporting movement, which means that every day the equivalent of USD 3.4 million goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.
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