Social entrepreneur, economist, civil society leader and Nobel Peace Prize awardee Muhammad Yunus received the Olympic Laurel award at the opening ceremony of 32nd Games of the Olympics in Tokyo 2020.
Prof Yunus, who is often referred to as the “world’s banker to the poor”, is the second awardee, and the first Asian, after Kenyan Olympian Kip Keino to get the prestigious award.
“I am honored and overwhelmed to receive this Olympic award, which is so special to me and my country,” he said Eurasia Review reported.
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Speaking from Dhaka, the Nobel laureate thanked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and wished a success to its mission to transform the world to a peaceful place for the entire human race through the sports.
“Sport brings all human strengths and emotions into play. That gives it enormous power,” said Prof Yunus.
Professor Yunus, in his Olympic Laurel acceptance speech, urged all athletes to build a world of Three Zeros.
He defined the Three Zeros as: Zero net carbon emissions, zero wealth concentration to end poverty once and for all, and zero unemployment by unleashing the power of entrepreneurs in everyone.
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Moment of Hope
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) spoke to the limited audience saying, “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.”
“Today is a moment of hope. Yes, it is very different from what all of us had imagined. But let us cherish this moment.”
Born in 1940 in the seaport city of Chittagong, Professor Yunus studied at Dhaka University in Bangladesh, then received a Fulbright scholarship to study economics at Vanderbilt University.
He received his PhD in economics in 1969 and joined Middle Tennessee State University, where he taught until he returned to Bangladesh in 1972.
Professor Yunus is the recipient of numerous international awards for his ideas and endeavors and is a member of the board of the United Nations Foundation. In 2006, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding Grameen Bank, which pioneered the concepts of microcredit and microfinance for people living in poverty.