As the world faces life changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, United Through Sports joined forces with over 100 organisations in 2020 to promote inclusion, equality, non-discrimination and peace for and with the youth of the world. The world’s first ever virtual youth festival was held under the patronage of the IOC, IPC and Special Olympics, GAISF, SportAccord and AIMS hosted from Thailand to the world.
Cities around the world including the Gold Coast, Ekaterinburg, Milano Cortina, Abu Dhabi, Astana, Washington D.C and Los Angeles also joined the festival events and organised activities for their youth. Special events were also organised giving displaced and refugee youth an opportunity to take part in the action.
Where most events of 2020 were postponed or cancelled,this unifying event provided many opportunities for connection, sport and fun. Youth under 18 competed in 5 competitions: Max Fit, Aero Fit, IPC’s Inclusive Sports Challenge, the Special Olympics Unified Fitness Challenge and the Talent Competition.
Whilst thousands of youth had the opportunity to shine, technical officials from all participating sports rolled up their sleeves to ensure the implementation of fair-play and judging. Each participating sport, Olympic and non-Olympic, nominated outstanding youth ambassadors sending out their powerful messages of hope whilst promoting their sport.
UTS President Stephan Fox said, “The event was an overwhelming success and a thanks must go to each and every organisation, the host country, Thailand and above all, the youth of the world who showcased their unique abilities.”
The 19 December, Leaving a Legacy Awards Gala Event opened with a traditional performance, Thailand’s national sport is the martial art muaythai where the Sport Is Your Gang youth gave an energetic demonstration. A virtual medal parade for the different competitions saw youth of all abilities enter the podium from all 5 continents proudly displaying their well-earnt medals.
Youth Ambassadors from across the globe shared their powerful messages including the IPC Ambassador from Uganda, Husnah and the Special Olympics Ambassador from Milano Cortina, Rebecca. The ambassadors touched the Bangkok audience and sent waves of emotion across the virtual platform showcasing that we all have amazing unique abilities and we must support one another. Young Harmonie from the UK, IPC’s Gold medalist in the Under 12 division, moved the audience with her riveting message of positivity and joy for sport.
The winners for outstanding Youth Ambassadors came from all sports, Gia Griffith from the United States representing the sport of Powerlifting, Sylar Alcantara from the Philippines representing football, Kyra Seow from Singapore representing World Pentathlon, Pann Jingjitr from Thailand from DanceSport, Timofeev Stavr from Australia representing Sambo, Lara Colturi from Italy representing skiing, Kallum Wilson from Great Britain representing International Water Ski & Wakeboard, Leila Malki from Palestine representing Equestrian, Eliska Matouskova from Czech Republic representing UIM Motor Surf, Jasper Ministerio from the Philippines representing JuJitsu, Nakrit Sutivijitho from Thailand representing IIHF Ice Hockey and a special award was given to Haylee Garcia from the Philippines representing the sport of Gymnastics.
Football Legend, Ronaldinho,sent a message to the youth encouraging them to live their dreams, stay healthy, fit and united through the power of sport.
The Aero Fit Competitions had the audience on their feet with fabulous performances and the Talent performances began with an inspirational message from the world renowned K-Pop band, The Great Guys inspiring all the talents.
The Thai National Youth Taekwondo Team gave a breathtaking performance and the Right To Play migrant youth received a standing ovation.
The event was about “Leaving a Legacy Behind” and donations were raised towards Right To Play’s “Achieving Change Beyond Borders Project” to improve the quality of early childhood development in the camps along the Thai/Myanmar border.
Thailand’s IOC Member, Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul stated that she was proud to be part of this initiative and now more than ever before, we must stand in unity and solidarity using sport as a tool towards social change.
The youth received their medals: gold, silver and bronze and all participants from Thailand received participation medals. All participating youth will receive certificates signed by the IOC, IPC, SOI, UTS and the National Olympic Committee of Thailand.