Refugees receive Olympic support in Kazakhstan, as Kazakhstan NOC and UNESCO celebrate special children on Olympic Day



A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the National Olympic Committee of Kazakhstan and UNESCO in support of refugees in their desire to practice sports, giving them the opportunity to participate in educational programmes and sports events in Kazakhstan.

The MOU was signed by the NOC of Kazakhstan and the Regional Office for Central Asia of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The two parties agreed to develop further cooperation within the framework of specific projects.

The agreement comes in the wake of this year’s International Olympic Day on 23 June, when UNESCO and the NOC of Kazakhstan celebrated children and adolescents with special needs.

This year, despite quarantine and the coronavirus pandemic, adolescents from the children’s hospice in Almaty were given the opportunity to meet their favourite athletes, tell their own stories and listen to others, recharging themselves with energy and motivation in the fight against the disease.

Meanwhile, according to tradition, 1,349 children born on Olympic Day in Kazakhstan received certificates, letters from the Olympians and gifts. The tradition, created by the NOC of Kazakhstan, honours babies born on 23 June each year.

The NOC of Kazakhstan is in solidarity with the International Olympic Committee in the development of the Olympic movement and sports in general, as a tool to promote the development and well-being of a person, and as a unifying force to strengthen peace, education, gender equality and sustainable development.

Referring to the refugees initiative, Timur Kulibayev, the NOC of Kazakhstan’s President, said: "We support the International Olympic Movement and share the UN’s humanitarian goals for refugees.

"The NOC of Kazakhstan is ready to take all necessary efforts so that children and youth who have found themselves far away from their homeland, can nevertheless continue to practise sports and realize their Olympic dreams.

"As a country committed to the Olympic principles of equality and non-discrimination, it is very important for Kazakhstan to provide support, especially during the global migration crisis and pandemic. With our intentions in this area, we show solidarity with the International Olympic Committee".

In September 2017, the IOC established the Olympic Refugee Foundation to protect, develop and empower children and young people through sport. In addition, in October 2015, IOC President Thomas Bach announced the creation of a Refugee Olympic Team to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and in October 2018, it was announced that a Refugee Team would also compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

International Olympic Day 2021

At the children’s hospice in Almaty, Serik Sapiev, Olympic champion and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, told the children about the main principles of the Olympic movement: honesty, justice and mutual understanding. She also stressed the key Olympic message: to fight and not to give up.

Meanwhile, gymnast Alina Adilkhanova, who was preparing to fly to Tokyo for the Olympic Games, held a masterclass in which she explained how the sporting principles of fair play and respect for opponents had helped her in her life.

About one and a half thousand parcels were packed in advance and sent to children born on Olympic Day in 237 maternity hospitals. They will reach every child - both in big cities and in the regions.

They were accompanied by this message from Kazakh athletes: "We wish you a very happy birthday! This day is special for us too - today is International Olympic Day, when we remind the whole country of the importance of unity, equality and respect for each other, the values that the Olympic world teaches us.

"It doesn’t matter if you end up becoming an athlete, we believe that in any position you will be a winner. You can become the best doctor, the best engineer, chef, or pilot. The main thing is to go in for sports and always believe in your dreams! Our Olympic family wishes you victories in any path you choose. Ak Zhol, Olympian!"

The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan was actively involved in the action and carried out it together with the National Olympic Committee.


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