Right To Play
is an international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills, and foster peace for children and communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world. Working in both the humanitarian and development context, Right To Play builds local capacity by training community leaders as Coaches to deliver its programs in 20 countries affected by war, poverty, and disease in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America. Founded in 2000, Right To Play is headquartered in Toronto, Canada and has national offices in Canada
, The Netherlands
, the United Kingdom
and the United States
. The national offices raise funds, build awareness for Right To Play programs and advocate for Sport for Development. The organization has its international headquarters in Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...
Right To Play evolved out of an awareness and fundraising organization called Olympic Aid, which was conceived in 1992 by the Lillehammer Olympic Organizing Committee (LOOC) in preparation for the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. The focus of Olympic Aid during these Games was to show support for people in war-torn countries and areas of distress.Olympic athletes were chosen to be Ambassadors of Olympic Aid to assist in the fundraising efforts. The lead Athlete Ambassador was Norwegian speed-skater and four-time gold medalist Johann Olav Koss, who donated a large portion of his winnings to Olympic Aid and challenged fellow athletes and the global community to donate money for each gold medal won. An unprecedented $18 million US was raised. The funds supported five main projects in 1994: building a hospital in Sarajevo; building schools in Eritrea; supporting a mother/child program in Guatemala; supporting refugees in Afghanistan; and a support program for children living with disabilities in Lebanon.
The Fundraising Years – Supporting International Humanitarian Partners
Between 1994 and 2000, Olympic Aid continued to raise funds for children in disadvantaged situations, building on the momentum of subsequent Olympic Games. In 1996, Olympic Aid formed a partnership with UNICEF and raised $13 million US prior to and during the Games in Atlanta. The funds assisted UNICEF in vaccinating approximately 12.2 million children and more than 800,000 women.
This vaccination effort was extraordinary as it resulted in temporary Olympic Truces in Afghanistan and the Kurdish region in northern Iraq. All fighting stopped in the regions so the UNICEF staff could safely immunize the children and women of these areas.
Transition to Direct Implementation – Working With International Partners
With its incorporation in late 2000, Olympic Aid (which became Right To Play) made the transition from “fundraising vehicle” to implementing Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). In March 2001, the first sport and play programs began in refugee communities in Angola and Côte d’Ivoire.
During the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Olympic Aid hosted a Roundtable Forum entitled “Healthier, Safer, Stronger: Using Sport for Development to build a brighter future for children worldwide”. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan gave the keynote address while global leaders in health, sport and development participated in a moderated discussion of the role of sport in relation to four development issues: vaccination, tobacco-free sport, HIV and AIDS prevention and the rehabilitation of refugees. With participants including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, the Olympic Aid Roundtable placed Sport for Development firmly on the UN agenda.
Right To Play Today
Building on the founding legacy of the Lillehammer Olympics, this transition allowed Right To Play to include both Olympic athletes and other elite sports figures as Athlete Ambassadors; increase relationships to non-Olympic sports; partner with a wider variety of private sector funders; and deepen involvement at the grassroots level.
Today, Right To Play has a permanent presence in the field of Sport for Development. In addition to its sport and play programs, Right To Play is established as a pioneer in international advocacy on behalf of every child’s right to play, and it is actively involved in research and policy development in this area. The organization's vision is to engage leaders on all sides of sport, business and media to ensure every child’s right to play.
Sport for Development
Sport for Development and Peace refers to the intentional use of sport, physical activity and play to attain specific development and peace objectives, including, most notably, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Successful Sport for Development and Peace programs work to realize the rights of all members of society to participate in sport and leisure activities. Effective programs intentionally give priority to development objectives and are carefully designed to be inclusive. These programs embody the best values of sport while upholding the quality and integrity of the sport experience.
Ban from 2010 Winter Olympics
In October 2008, the International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee is an international corporation based in Lausanne, Switzerland, created by Pierre de Coubertin on 23 June 1894 with Demetrios Vikelas as its first president...
(IOC) and the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games
The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games was the non-profit organization responsible for planning, organizing, financing and staging the 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Winter Paralympics...
(VANOC) announced that Right To Play would be banned from an official role at the 2010 Winter Olympics
The 2010 Winter Olympics, officially the XXI Olympic Winter Games or the 21st Winter Olympics, were a major international multi-sport event held from February 12–28, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with some events held in the suburbs of Richmond, West Vancouver and the University...
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...
. The two committees cited sponsorship conflicts as the reason behind the ban, identifying Right To Play sponsors such as Canon, Scotiabank
The Bank of Nova Scotia , commonly known as Scotiabank , is the third largest bank in Canada by deposits and market capitalization. It serves some 18.6 million customers in more than 50 countries around the world and offers a broad range of products and services including personal, commercial,...
, and Mitsubishi
The Mitsubishi Group , Mitsubishi Group of Companies, or Mitsubishi Companies is a Japanese multinational conglomerate company that consists of a range of autonomous businesses which share the Mitsubishi brand, trademark and legacy...
as competitors to Olympic sponsors Kodak
Eastman Kodak Company is a multinational imaging and photographic equipment, materials and services company headquarted in Rochester, New York, United States. It was founded by George Eastman in 1892....
, Royal Bank of Canada
The Royal Bank of Canada or RBC Financial Group is the largest financial institution in Canada, as measured by deposits, revenues, and market capitalization. The bank serves seventeen million clients and has 80,100 employees worldwide. The company corporate headquarters are located in Toronto,...
, and General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...
. Right To Play had been present in an official role at every Summer and Winter Olympics since 2004
The 2004 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, was a premier international multi-sport event held in Athens, Greece from August 13 to August 29, 2004 with the motto Welcome Home. 10,625 athletes competed, some 600 more than expected, accompanied by 5,501 team...
, and since 1994
The 1994 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XVII Olympic Winter Games, was a winter multi-sport event celebrated from 12 to 27 February 1994 in and around Lillehammer, Norway. Lillehammer failed to win the bid for the 1992 event. Lillehammer was awarded the games in 1988, after having beat...
as Olympic Aid.