Olympians in Support of Right To Play

Posted by Anna Rice on February 15, 2009 at 10:13 AM

This is an important blog entry for me, as it discusses an issue close to my heart.  Namely, the need to fight for what remains true within the arena of Olympic and professional sport.  

As some of you may have read by now, this past December the International Olympic Committee announced they would end the memorandum of understanding that had existed for over 15 years between the IOC and the humanitarian sport for development organization Right To Play.  When this news broke, many media outlets wrote how disappointed they were with the IOC, some going as far as to call the decision the worst in recent Olympic history.  Many Canadians- including sportspeople from grassroots to Olympic levels- are asking how and why this happened under VANOC's watch?  (VANOC is the Organizing Committee for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics). As a Vancouverite, it saddens me to think that this decision by the IOC was made as a result of sponsorship disputes relating to the 2010 Games. 

When money comes above all else, the Olympic ideals are put in jeopardy.

The one-year countdown to the 2010 Olympic Games has just begun, and with this milestone the IOC dignitaries are gathered in Vancouver to celebrate the occasion.  Meanwhile, more than a hundred Canadian Olympians have joined together to unify their voice in support of Right To Play.

Please read our official letter entitled “Statement on RTP by Olympians”.

As you know from the main page of this site, I am an athlete ambassador for Right To Play, which means I endorse and support this organization in various ways.   It is also with this organization that I will be traveling to Uganda in a couple of months to do an internship, which I was awarded last August in Beijing.  Five Olympians were selected and this incredible opportunity is just one example of how Right To Play contributes to the Olympic movement and promotes the best of what sport can be.

I am very disappointed that the IOC has ended their partnership with Right To Play and that Right To Play will not be able to set up their usual information booth inside the Athlete's Village for the 2010 Games. I know how valuable this exposure is, as I myself first became aware of the organization after coming across their tent inside the Athlete's Village at the 2004 Athens Games.

This debacle is such a shame not only for Right To Play but also for future Olympians, because they won't have the same unique exposure to this great organization that I was able to have.  Many athletes would like to get involved and use their status as profiled sportspeople to help disadvantaged children and youth gain access to sport and play, but they simply don't know where to start.

Having a presence inside the athlete’s village was a way for Olympians to learn about how they can use their social and symbolic capital to inspire meaningful social change.  As an Olympian, I have experienced the enormously positive impact of sport in my life.  Right To Play works to bring the positive aspects of sport to children who live amidst war and poverty and who may not otherwise have the opportunity to simply play.  

Below is a link to an article written in the National Post newspaper yesterday by sports columnist Bruce Arthur, in response to the joint statement released yesterday by Canadian Olympians.  I spoke with Bruce from Copenhagen to share my thoughts on this issue.

I would like to thank Canadian Olympic Gold medalist and fellow Right To Play Athlete Ambassador Adam Kreek for initating this joint statement.

If you would like to read more on this topic, see these articles published in the Toronto Star and the Vancouver Province last week:

To read about Right To Play and for more on this topic visit .

Please click HERE and sign your name in support of Right To Play!

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Reply Darius Shahrokhi
4:36 PM on February 15, 2009 
Have we forgotten our values, our obligations & duties?
Let us not go backwards, let us be leaders rather than followers.
Reply Judy Nykjær
12:57 AM on February 16, 2009 
I support Right To Play, they have the right values.
Reply Vivien
6:29 AM on February 20, 2009 
I do not really understand the whole thing,
but happy to hear JieJie's voice here
Reply ferrry
6:33 AM on February 9, 2010 
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