By Sean Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy.
There are just 24 hours to go before the 22nd Laureus World Sports Awards, with the glittering gala replaced this year by a virtual Awards.
Some of the greatest athletes in the world will this year be giving their acceptance speeches from their homes, as the winners are revealed in categories including Team of the Year, Sportswoman of the Year and Athlete Advocate of the Year. Inevitably, the winners take the opportunity to thank those around them, whether it’s coaches, partners, family or team mates.
And as we prepare for a very different Awards, hosted from Seville, Spain, tomorrow evening, this is our opportunity, here at Laureus, to say ‘thank you’ to the partners without whom this great celebration of athletic excellence - and the power of sport to make a difference - would not be possible.
Our global partners, Mercedes-Benz, IWC Schaffhausen and MUFG aren’t just partners for one night a year, turning out in their ballgowns and tuxedos on awards night. They are there all year round, supporting Laureus and participating in our events as we use the power of sport to improve the lives of children and young people all over the world. Of course, they do also show up in their ballgowns and tuxedos on awards night – it’s a special occasion and sport, and the wider impact it can have, deserves to be celebrated. As powerful and entertaining as tomorrow evening’s show will be, we will miss the spectacle of our guests arriving on the red carpet, a unique mix of sporting figures who’ve never met or who are old friends, gathering in one place to celebrate the best of sport.
And regularly, our partners and the world of sport combine through Laureus to create something special and something lasting.
IWC Schaffhausen has produced special edition ‘Laureus Sport for Good Edition’ watches every year since 2006, raising funds for Laureus Sport for Good through their sale. Each edition of the watch features a drawing on the reverse, designed in a global competition by one of the participants of a Laureus Sport for Good programme, creating a lasting link between IWC and Sport for Good.
Mercedes-Benz have been innovative drivers of Sport for Good around the world, with programmes in Germany, the USA and destinations as diverse as South Africa, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, the UK, Italy and Spain all benefitting from direct investment.
MUFG, as a Japanese bank with a global outlook, has embraced Laureus’ global reach, joining a partnership with Nike to support Laureus programmes in Japan as well as Haiti and the USA, to demonstrate that ‘sport for good’ can transcend borders, cultures and languages.
More than 20 years ago, at the first Laureus World Sports Awards, our first patron, Nelson Mandela, said that sport has the power to change the world. Since then, we have learned that it takes a team to make that happen. As we get ready to celebrate and honour athletes who have excelled in their sports and who have used their platforms to change the world around them, we also raise a glass to our friends and partners in our continuing mission to change the world through sport.