Two movements sharing the same passion

The Olympic Games will begin in Tokyo on July 23, a beacon of hope for the world after the agonies of the pandemic. Today, exactly one month ahead of that much longed for moment, the wider world is celebrating Olympic Day.
It marks the founding of the modern Olympic Movement in 1894, but goes way beyond a historic anniversary. Olympic Day is not just about what has happened in so many sports stadia over more than a century, but also about the many profound social differences the Olympics have helped deliver.
Today is celebrated by Laureus because of the powerful synergy between the Olympic Movement and Laureus Sport for Good, which is why this Olympic Day Laureus is proud to celebrate that commitment by the Olympic Movement.
In the same way the Olympics are about more than just winning, so Laureus is about more than just the winners of the annual Laureus World Sports Awards.  Both organisations use sport to educate young people to help create a peaceful and better world, with mutual understanding and a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.  As such, Laureus is proud to be a part of the extended Olympic family, united in sport.
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Laureus’ engagement with the Olympic Movement has grown over the last 20 years, whether consistently recognising the success of Olympians at the Laureus Awards or helping deliver the all-important international legacy of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2012.  The partnership has seen mutual benefit and a shared approach to using sport as a tool for social change around the world.
2012 was notable for making Laureus Sport for Good one of the delivery partners of the London Olympic Games, with the organisers teaming up with Laureus to unroll the International Inspirations programme.  The practical global impact, for example in Tanzania, saw Laureus facilitate local programmes training teachers and providing facilities and resources for sport in schools and the community. The programme had engaged 400,000 young people in Tanzania by 2014.

Sebastian Coe, a founder member of the Laureus Academy and the leader of the London Games Organising Committee, said at the time: “If you look at the values of the Olympic Movement - courage, respect, determination, inspiration, excellence – you clearly have not only values that are a metaphor for life, but the values that were the driving force for a small group of  us over ten years ago who formed the Laureus World Sports Academy.
“We were determined to take sport into areas where we know from experience it can resolve an awful lot of issues. It is not the entire panacea, but when you see Olympians like Boris Becker, Nadia Comaneci, Nawal El Moutawakel, Michael Johnson, Edwin Moses, Steve Redgrave, Mark Spitz and Daley Thompson giving up their time, going into really challenged communities, using sport as a bridgehead, you can see that the Olympic values are absolutely at the centre of what Laureus is about.”
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Another Laureus Academy Member who has fitted seamlessly into the Olympic world is Kenyan long distance runner Tegla Loroupe, herself a three-time Olympian, who was invited to be chef de misión of the first ever Refugee Team to compete at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Ten athletes made history in Rio. With no national flags or national anthems, they were enthusiastically welcomed under the banner of the Olympic flag and marched to the accompaniment of the Olympic anthem. They won the respect and admiration of the world – and six months later were presented with the Laureus Sport for Good Award for Sporting Inspiration.

For one of the refugees competing, South Sudan’s 800 metres runner Yiech Pur Biel, it was a little more personal. He said of Tegla: “She is our mother, not only our leader. Madam Tegla gives us a chance for other people to know the history of our lives. And we can forget what happened before. We can celebrate. We can have hope, like everyone else.” 
The Olympic Movement and Laureus Sport for Good over the years have been able to blend their sporting credentials with their social mission, often through the efforts of remarkable individuals. None more so than Nawal El Moutawakel, one of the most influential people in world sport: a former Vice-President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Chair of the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games Co-ordination Commission and of course the first African and Muslim woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the 400 metres hurdles in 1984. 
An impressive resumé, but in reality this meant very little to more than 100 children who were enjoying an athletics open session at the Parque Sarmiento sports complex hosted by the Fundacion Laureus Argentina in September, on the eve of the IOC Congress in Buenos Aires in 2013.
Nawal was joined by her fellow Academy Members, Sergey Bubka, Sebastian Coe and Kip Keino, all in Buenos Aires for the Congress, who joined the young people in a sports session involving sprinting, hurdling, pole vault and mini javelin.
Nawal said: “Sport changed my life and it only took 54 seconds [in the 400 metres hurdles final in Los Angeles] and I'm sure it can change the lives of many, many young children around the world, because of its power. I think this is the beauty of sport and the message that is spread around the world by Laureus.”
This Olympic Day we celebrate the on-going impact of the Olympic Movement.  It’s more true than ever that we are Stronger Together.

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