Overcoming various obstacles, Nobel laureate and economist Muhammad Yunus will be present at the opening ceremony of the Olympics, which will begin on July 23. Yunus is set to receive the prestigious Olympic Laurel Award at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Nobel laureate economist is going to get this honour for his special contribution to sports. He has created a social organisation called ‘Yunus Sports Hub’. This organisation promotes the theory of development through sports. Yunus, a proponent of microfinance, will be handed the Olympic Laurel on the opening day of the Tokyo Olympics on July 23. This Olympics honour has been given since the 2016 Rio Olympics. Kenyan Olympian and social changemaker Kip Keino received this honour at the Rio Olympics. He received the award for providing safe housing, schools and sports training for Kenyan children.
Yunus, a pioneering micro-lender, has been hailed for cutting poverty across the globe. The 81-year-old economist-turned-globe-trotting celebrity speaker won the Nobel in 2006.
Yunus will be the second recipient of the Olympic Laurel when he receives the trophy. Prof Yunus, who is often referred to as the “world’s banker to the poor”, receives the Olympic Laurel award for his extensive work in sport for development, including founding the Yunus Sports Hub, a global social business network that creates solutions through sport, the IOC said in a statement recently.
He has collaborated with the IOC on several projects, including educational elements of the IOC Young Leaders Programme, the ‘Imagine’ Peace Youth Camp and the Athlete365 Business Accelerator – the first comprehensive entrepreneurship programme to help Olympians with career transition.
IOC President Thomas Bach said earlier, “With the Olympic Laurel, we take forward the vision of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder and reviver of the modern Olympic Games."
“It is also a reflection of the ideals and values of the ancient Olympic Games, with a focus on human development through peace and sport. The Olympic Laurel recipient for 2020 was selected by a distinguished judging panel representing all five continents," he said.
Professor Yunus said, “The Olympic Games and sport have the most convening power in the world. The Olympic Games unite the entire world in peaceful competition, celebrating unity in diversity. North and South Korean athletes marching together in the Parade of Nations at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 was a powerful reminder of the immense potential of peace through sport. The Olympic Truce takes forward the vision of building a better world based on fair competition, peace, humanity and reconciliation. We can use this power to change the world in the most effective ways. Sport has the power to transform lives by galvanising the world, and social business can be the most efficient tool to unleash this power."
Yunus founded the Grameen Bank in the 1980s and shared the Nobel Prize with the micro-lender. The impact of his thinking is felt all over the world. He has become more relevant, brighter in his direction in the global crisis of Corona. Yunus has faced legal troubles in recent years after he was sacked in 2011 as head of Grameen Bank. In March 2020, he was fined $88 after admitting that a social business firm he set up had broken labour laws. Yunus set up the Grameen Bank in 1983 to make collateral-free micro-loans for rural and mostly women entrepreneurs. Its record in helping to reduce poverty earned him global fame and a Nobel Peace Prize.
But Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has accused Muhammad Yunus of “sucking blood" from the poor. In 2013, the government ordered legal action against him on charges of, what it said, was “tax exemption without following the due procedure", misuse of power and violating foreign travel regulations.