The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday announced a two million dollar fund that will be made available to National Olympic Committees for programmes focused on refugees.
The plans were quickly put into place amid the growing refugee crisis across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“We have all been touched by the terrible news and the heartbreaking stories in the past few days. With this terrible crisis unfolding across the Middle East, Africa and Europe, sport and the Olympic Movement wanted to play its part in bringing humanitarian help to the refugees,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement.
“We made a quick decision that we needed to take action and to make this fund available immediately.”
“We have a long term relationship with the United Nations and with the UNHCR and we draw on their help and expertise.”
“We know through experience that sport can ease the plight of refugees, many of them young people and children, be they in the Middle East, Africa, Europe or in other parts of the world. Our thoughts are with the many refugees risking their lives and the lives of their families to escape danger. ”
The fund will be made up of (USD) $1 million funded by the IOC and $1 million from Olympic Solidarity, According to the IOC Website and the Olympic Charter, “the aim of Olympic Solidarity is to organise assistance for all the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), particularly those with the greatest needs, through multi-faceted programmes prioritising athlete development, training of coaches and sports administrators, and promoting the Olympic ideals.”
The NOCs and other interested parties will be asked to submit projects to the IOC for funding.
“Because of the nature of the crisis the assessment of projects and the distribution of funds will be carried out extremely quickly,” Bach said, adding “we are able to work on the ground with our partners in the National Olympic Committees and the expert agencies to get help to where it is needed most urgently.”
The IOC already works with a number of United Nations agencies to help refugees around the world. In April 2014 the two organizations signed a historic agreement aimed at strengthening collaboration.
In 2014 Honorary IOC President Jacques Rogge visited Syrian refugees living in the UN camp of Azraq that contains 5,000 shelters and 18,000 refugees with the goal of raising awareness on the conditions of youth refugees and the impact of sport for their well-being.
Since 2004 Olympic stakeholders have distributed more than 170,000 clothing items to refugees around the globe.
The IOC is a non-profit organization that is made up of volunteer members committed to building a better world through sport. The organization redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the global sporting movement.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.