Olympic Refuge Foundation and IOC Refugee Olympic Team receive 2022 Princess of Asturias Award for Sports
The Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF) and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team have received the 2022 Princess of Asturias Award for Sports from the Princess of Asturias Foundation. The award was presented by Her Royal Highness Leonor, The Princess of Asturias, to IOC President Thomas Bach. He was accompanied by Refugee Olympic Team members Eldric Sella (boxing) and Masomah Ali Zada (cycling), who both competed at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The presentation at the Campoamor Theatre in Oviedo, Spain, was presided over by Their Majesties The King and Queen of Spain, accompanied by Their Royal Highnesses Leonor, The Princess of Asturias, and Infanta Sofía.
“The Olympic Refuge Foundation and the Refugee Olympic Team remind us that sport, elite competition and the Olympic Movement also serve to remember, reflect and alleviate —as far as possible— the harsh reality that so many people in the world live,” said His Majesty the King of Spain in his speech.
He continued: “The word refugee is one of those terms that provokes deep despair in the listener. Because the world’s refugees have lost everything, forced to leave their homes, their countries for reasons beyond their control and always in dramatic circumstances, even endangering their lives. We are called to be in solidarity so that they can pursue their personal ambitions. This is what this Foundation and the Refugee Olympic Team do by supporting athletes from various countries around the world so that they can resume their activity in decent conditions and participate in sports competitions. We wish every success to Eldric Sella and Masomah Ali Zada, who are with us this afternoon, and whom we encourage to continue fighting for their dreams. And thank you to the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, for his support, leadership and energy.”
Her Royal Highness Leonor said: “I also care and am very concerned that athletes cannot train or advance their career because they have been forced to flee their country. That is why it is such a great initiative that, thanks to the Refugee Olympic Team and the Olympic Refuge Foundation, athletes in this situation have had the opportunity for some years now to continue their pursuits in order to compete in the Olympic Games.
“We young people are aware that the current situation is not easy, that the world has changed and continues to change, and that the best way to progress is to maintain the enthusiasm to learn, to equip ourselves with responsibility and capacity for effort, to learn from those whom you know, those who do their thing flawlessly, often in silence. For this reason, on days like today, listening to, admiring and acknowledging the excellence of our winners makes us feel that things can always change for the better.”
The award recognizes the opportunities that the ORF and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team provide to young displaced people around the world to access sport and thrive in all aspects of their lives.