Dhukhilan Jeevamani (SGP), Javier Raya OLY (ESP), Jemima Montag OLY (AUS) and Sang Eun Lee (KOR) were among the IOC Young Leaders in attendance, with Layana de Souza (BRA), Mayssa Bsaibes (LBN) and Sophia Papamichalopoulos OLY (CYP) also contributing to the event agenda by delivering a workshop during the summit, and Nicolo Di Tullio (ITA) selected as a speaker.
Held this year in Manchester, Great Britain, from 5 to 8 September, the annual event brings together more than 2,000 of the brightest young leaders from over 190 countries around the world to connect, learn and work together on new ideas and solutions to create sustainable change in the world.
Safeguarding the world’s oceans
Di Tullio’s keynote address focused on safeguarding and restoring the world’s oceans – one of the plenary topics for the summer and an issue that is linked to his IOC Young Leaders project, which aims to enable surfers, kayakers and other water sports participants to become data collectors for environmental scientists and research centres.
His speech highlighted how everyone must take responsibility for their actions if they are to help stop and reverse the ongoing damage to the world’s oceans, urging attendees to become “ocean literate” to improve their understanding of their own impact on the ocean and how the ocean impacts each of our lives.
“Your everyday choices have consequences for our oceans,” he said. “Become ocean literate in your own way, so that you know how to treat the ocean with respect.”
IOC Young Leaders: Sport and Peacebuilding
De Souza, Bsaibes and Papamichalopoulos also came together during the summit to deliver a workshop entitled “IOC Young Leaders: Sport and Peacebuilding”, which addressed the plenary topic of conflict prevention and highlighted how they have each mobilised their IOC Young Leaders projects to encourage peace-building through sport in their own local communities.
De Souza, for instance, has launched Changing the Score (Mudando o Placar) – an initiative in the Rocinha favela of Rio de Janeiro that aims to improve the quality of life for local youth through free basketball sessions, which are delivered alongside educational activities, psychological and sporting support, and cultural activities.
“I want to use my sport as a tool for social development and human development, and to be able to give back to the kids here in Rocinha, by offering them the same opportunity that I had,” she said. “If I'm able to do that, I feel like I will have accomplished what I wanted to do.”
Bsaibes, meanwhile, is helping people in her native Lebanon find peace through Keep-PING Hope – a project that provides local youth with the chance to take part in table tennis sessions.
“We organise table tennis activities with national players and coaches and host workshops about life skills and well-being,” she explained. “My aim is to give peace and hope to Lebanese children in these difficult times.”
Papamichalopoulos, who competed at the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010, also felt compelled to help those affected by wars and conflict. Her home country of Cyprus has long experienced such divisions, and she has seen first-hand not only the effects of this, but also how sport can be used to foster peace between conflicting peoples. Her Winds of Change initiative aims to use sailing to bring different Cypriot communities together to sail around the island and develop lasting bonds that will improve relations.
“Winds of Change will give rise to the first bi-communal team to sail around our divided island of Cyprus,” said Papamichalopoulos. “It is an opportunity for them to develop unique skills and an exceptional friendship by living and sailing together on a boat. It ultimately aims to inspire others in order to increase bi-communal activities on the island, to encourage the use of sport as a peace catalyst and to promote peace globally.”
Sports as a powerful transformational tool
During the summit, De Souza and Di Tullio also participated in a panel discussion on sport leadership and sustainable development, which was moderated by One Young World Counsellor Mark Tewksbury – an Olympic champion in swimming and the Vice-President of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
The session highlighted sport’s ability to be used as a powerful transformation tool that can support the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with participants discussing how the power of sport can be harnessed to educate and inspire the next generation of ethical leaders about tackling the world’s most pressing issues.
“As an example, in the last decade, Brazil has hosted two of the most important events in the sports sector – the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games Rio 2016,” explained De Souza. “Both events provided opportunities to shine a light on some of the most pressing issues of society in my country.”
Application process 2023-2026
The new IOC Young Leaders programme application and selection process for the generation 2023-2026 is launching in September 2022 with the key aim to find the next cohort of passionate IOC Young Leaders who will imagine, design and realise their own sustainable sport-based social businesses / projects.
Click to access more information about the programme and its objectives, the 2022 selection process including the timelines and the criteria.
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