3 August 2008 :On the occasion of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, UNAIDS, BOCOG and the IOC just launched their joint "Play safe – Help stop HIV" campaign in the Olympic Village. The objective set is to educate athletes participating in the Beijing Games about HIV and recruit them as ambassadors to raise awareness about the epidemic.
The link between sport and HIV
Today more than 33 million people are living with HIV and of those newly infected in 2007, 45% are young people under 25. Many of these youths are involved in sport, either as spectators or participants. Through its global network, the sports community can be a key actor in reaching out to communities to promote safer sexual behaviour and to stop stigma and discrimination. "Famous athletes especially can play an important role in conveying messages about HIV prevention, care and support, as they are regarded as role models by young people," said IOC President Rogge during the campaign’s kick-off.
Learn and educate – famous athletes show how
Informative leaflets will be distributed to all athletes competing in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and free condoms will be made available at the polyclinics of the three Olympic Villages in Beijing, Qingdao and Hong Kong. "Athletes should know about how HIV can be transmitted, how it does not transmit, and how HIV can be prevented. This should help them to educate peers and fight discrimination against people with HIV. It really is a topic relevant to sport," said Rania Elwani campaign ambassador, former Olympic swimmer and member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission during the launch. Another famous voice for the initiative is the Chinese basketball player Yao Ming.
Competent staff in Beijing
In order to reach out to as many athletes as possible during Games time, UNAIDS has helped the Chinese Organising Committee (BOCOG) to train its medical staff and volunteers on the topic of HIV prevention.
“UNAIDS is very pleased with it collaboration with the IOC and BOCOG,” said UNAIDS Country Coordinator Dr Bernhard Schwartländer, “we know that sport and the Olympic Games are universal languages that can play a very important and positive role in raising AIDS awareness and reducing stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV.”