Sporting world vows support for refugees as Global Refugee Forum approaches


More than 70 entities – including National Olympic Committees, international sporting federations, national associations, clubs, and civil society organizations working through sport – are pledging to provide sporting opportunities to young refugees, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Tuesday, December 10.

UNHCR has worked closely with the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF) and the IOC on this global initiative, ahead of the first-ever Global Refugee Forum in Geneva on 17 and 18 December, 2019.

The three pledges are:

To promote and ensure access for all refugees, without distinction of any kind, to safe and inclusive sporting facilities.

To increase availability and access to organized sports and sport-based initiatives for refugee and hosting communities, actively considering age, gender, ability and other diversity needs.

To promote and facilitate equal access to and participation of refugees in sporting events and competitions at all levels.

“We wholeheartedly welcome these important commitments. They clearly demonstrate that the sporting world stands with refugees,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.

The President of the IOC, Thomas Bach, who will be presenting the pledges on behalf of the signatories at the upcoming Global Refugee Forum, also welcomed the support.

“Through sport, the IOC has been supporting refugees around the world for many years”, said Bach. ”More recently, together with UNHCR, we created the Olympic Refuge Foundation. From this experience we know that for children and young people uprooted by war or persecution, sport is much more than a leisure activity”.

Those making pledges include World Athletics, the International Judo Federation, Special Olympics and International Paralympic Committee, the Bangladesh, English and Republic of Ireland Football Associations, the AC Milan Foundation, Council of Southern Africa Football Associations, and Olympic Committees from 12 countries.

A declaration signed by those pledging recognises that for children and young people uprooted by war or persecution, sport is much more than a leisure activity. It’s an opportunity to be included and protected – a chance to heal, develop and grow.

The signatories are also calling for sports organizations around the world to join them in offering sporting opportunities to refugee and internally displaced young people, especially those living in their communities. (Source: UNHCR)