The Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF) has taken another important step in helping young displaced people around the world to have access to safe sport.
In the framework of an agreement signed between the ORF and the French Sports Ministry in February 2021, France has provided the Foundation with EUR 1 million to deploy integration-through-sport programmes for refugees and displaced persons in the Île-de-France region.
With a view to implementing this programme, a two-day workshop was held in Paris this week with the Sports Ministry and a consortium of six partners in order to devise a unique three-year programme to support refugees and asylum-seekers in France. This is the second programme that the ORF will implement in Europe.
Following a rigorous selection process this summer, six partners were chosen for the programme: PLAY International, Kabubu, Fútbol Más, Ovale Citoyen, Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation and Emmaüs Solidarité. During the workshop, held at the Paris 2024 offices in Saint-Denis, these partners formed a consortium to work together on the programme alongside the ORF and the French Sports Ministry. The French National Olympic Committee, Paris 2024 and UNHCR France also took part in the workshop to share their expertise.
Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu said during the meeting: “This programme resonates particularly with me, given my background and the current situation in Afghanistan. I am convinced that sport is an excellent tool to include refugee populations in our country and to support the development of their skills.”
The Head of the ORF, Jojo Ferris, added: “Working together with the Sports Ministry and six organisations to define a shared goal is an extraordinary opportunity to ensure that young displaced people in France find belonging and thrive through sport.”
All the participants worked together over the two days to create the overarching programme and its objectives, and also determine how each partner will contribute to achieving them. Planned for launch in early 2022, the programme will be funded jointly by the French Sports Ministry and the ORF to the tune of EUR 1.3 million. It is due to run beyond the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024.
Helping refugees through sport since 1994
The IOC has been helping refugees through sport since 1994, in partnership with UNHCR. In 2016, the first-ever IOC Refugee Olympic Team competed in Rio de Janeiro, and 29 refugee athlete scholarship-holders participated in Tokyo 2020 as part of the Refugee Olympic Team. The ORF is the next chapter in the IOC’s commitment to providing assistance to refugees, ensuring support 365 days a year across the globe.
Since its creation in 2017, the ORF has coordinated 12 programmes in eight countries (Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Rwanda, Turkey and Uganda), in addition to this new programme in France. As a result, 200,000 young people are currently benefiting from sports programmes designed to improve their well-being and social inclusion.
The goal of the ORF is for one million young people affected by displacement to have access to safe sport by 2024.