WOA President calls on Olympians to support IOC Refugee campaign

9 | 2 | 2016

WOA President Joël Bouzou has joined IOC President Thomas Bach in calling for attention to be drawn to the plight of migrants by urging Olympians everywhere to use their influence as sportspeople and role models to make a difference to the lives of refugees.

Over the past few months the IOC has been vocal in its desire to raise awareness of the ongoing migrant crisis. In September, IOC President Thomas Bach announced the organisation’s decision to create a US $2 million emergency fund made available to National Olympic Committees to help refugees and the following month, at a meeting of the UN General Assembly, he declared that highly-qualified athletes who were refugees would be eligible to compete at the Olympic Games under the IOC banner. 

Last week during a recent trip to the Greek capital Bach announced that that the Rio 2016 Olympic torch relay would pass through the Eleonas refugee camp in Athens where several thousand migrants, who have escaped from conflict- torn countries such as Syria, reside. While there he also confirmed that a small team of 5-10 international refugee athletes were now expected to qualify and compete at the next Summer Olympic Games.

The WOA fully endorses the IOC’s efforts and urges Olympians to join the campaign and help raise awareness for this important campaign by spreading the message of peace and solidarity.

Joël Bouzou, President of the WOA said:

“Thomas Bach put action behind his words by visiting a refugee camp. He did so in the name of the International Olympic Committee. But he also did it as an Olympian.

“Over these last months, the IOC and National Olympic Committees have greatly contributed to improve the situation of migrants. It’s now for athletes to take up the challenge. Their influence on young people and their weight with the media gives them the power to make a difference.

“It’s for athletes to rise to their status as role-models and set an example in a crisis whose victims are counted in the hundreds of thousands. Olympians in particular have a status and title that has always been, and will be for a long time to come, associated with the values of mutual aid, commitment and going beyond excellence.

“The WOA will continue to support Thomas Bach and the IOC in their ambition to help those refugees aiming to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and I look forward to welcoming these new future Olympians in our community.”

The WOA is also committed to supporting IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge in his mission as Special Envoy of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General for Youth Refugees and Sport to raise awareness of the condition of youth refugees and the impact of sport for their well-being.

You can find out more about the IOC refugee campaign and show your support by visiting

Photo credit: International Olympic Committee