Young Ambassador uses sport to help refugees feel integrated

20 Jun 2016
YOG IOC News Peace

Dominik Sandler IOC/Arnaud Meylan
Today is World Refugee Day 2016. On this day, the world commemorates the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees. This global issue has been in Dominik Sandler’s heart for a long time, and he has decided to do something about it.
Dominik was an Austrian Young Ambassador (YA) at the Youth Olympic Games Lillehammer 2016 (YOG), which took place last February in Norway. YAs are nominated by their respective National Olympic Committees (NOCs) ahead of each edition of the YOG to ensure that their athletes get the most out of their YOG experience. 

Following the YOG, the IOC launched the “Young Ambassadors +” programme inviting the YA alumni to submit their own projects or provide plans to develop existing projects that use sport to make a difference. This inspired Dominik.

Saddened to notice that there were very few opportunities for refugees to practise sport in Austria, the 24 year-old saw this proposal as a great opportunity to support the refugees arriving in his home country. His idea: to organise sporting activities for refugees in a bid to help them momentarily forget about their problems or grief. Very well received by the IOC’s evaluation group, Dominik’s project will receive financial support from the IOC so as to help him implement his idea.

Young Ambassadors IOC/Ian Jones

From a nation known for its winter sports, the young Austrian wants to offer refugees a chance to experience sports like skiing, Austrian curling or cross-country skiing in addition to summer ones such as volleyball, badminton or cycling. Dominik is still in the preparation phase of this programme, but he hopes to launch it in the near future. He feels strongly that sport can help refugees become part of society and make them feel integrated in their new country. 

“We can bring joy, trust and the feeling of being accepted and respected back into the hearts of the people who depend on our help the most at the moment”, says the Young Ambassador. 

An inspiring message for World Refugee Day 2016. 

For more information about World Refugee Day, visit

Read how the IOC is standing with refugees here

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