For the second time in successive summer and winter Games, Olympic and Paralympic fans were given the opportunity to vote for the most inspiring moments that best exemplify the shared Olympic, Paralympic and Visa values of friendship, acceptance and inspiration, and help select the winners of The Visa Award.
Today, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and Worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Partner Visa announced Olympic speed skater Kai Verbij and the Ukrainian Paralympic team as the winners of The Visa Award for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
To recognise and celebrate The Visa Award winners, Visa has given them the opportunity to choose a charity, each of which will receive a USD 50,000 donation from Visa.
In addition to the USD 100,000 Visa is donating to The Visa Award winners’ selected charities, the company will donate an additional USD 100,000 towards helping the Ukrainian Olympic and Paralympic communities during these difficult times.
Half (USD 50,000) will go to the IOC’s Solidarity Fund for the Ukrainian Olympic Community, which the IOC established in collaboration with Olympic Solidarity and the European Olympic Committees. The Fund is to be used to alleviate the impact of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and is directed towards the entire Ukrainian Olympic community. The other half will go to support the National Paralympic Committee of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian National Paralympic Team captivated people across the world by overcoming incredible obstacles to make their entrance at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games' Opening Ceremony, as they were welcomed with a warm round of applause from the stadium audience.
Through voting for The Visa Award, this emotional and courageous moment for Team Ukraine was almost unanimously recognised by fans as the most inspiring moment of the Paralympic Games. The Ukrainian team went on to finish second in the medal table at these Games.
Speaking on behalf of the Ukrainian Paralympic Team, its president, Valeriy Sushkevych, said: “Thank you very much on behalf of all members of our community for voting and awarding us The Visa Award. This prize is very valuable for us as it will help us continue our activities, help athletes and persons with disabilities in Ukraine, and fight for peace in our country.”
Team Ukraine selected the National Sports Committee for the Disabled of Ukraine, which was established by the National Paralympic Committee of Ukraine to help ensure that their Para athletes could continue to train and represent their country in international competition. The fund also supports the Ukrainian Paralympic Centre in western Ukraine, which is currently supporting 500 Ukrainian refugees, including a group of children with disabilities.
Fellow The Visa Award winner, Dutch speed skater Kai Verbij, was selected by fans for the moment he decided not to jeopardise his opponent’s chances of a medal with a risky overtake on the final stretch of the men's 1,000m final. In a split-second decision, Verbij showed great sportsmanship, opting to back off, which allowed Canadian skater Laurent Dubreuil to safely win his first Olympic medal.
Verbij selected UNICEF Netherlands as his charity of choice for the work it does in areas experiencing conflict across the world, and specifically in Ukraine.
The Visa Award
Designed jointly by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and Worldwide Partner Visa to engage and connect audiences around the world during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, The Visa Award is also aimed at encouraging people around the world to believe in and support each other in line with the three organisations’ core values: friendship, acceptance and inspiration.
The Visa Award was first introduced for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and was won by 13-year-old Brazilian Olympic skateboard phenom, Rayssa Leal, and Paralympic gold medallist from New Zealand Holly Robinson.
Leal was awarded the accolade following her display of sportsmanship towards her opponents during the women's street competition, in which she took the silver medal. Robinson, who won the women’s javelin F46 event, was selected by fans for taking the time to recognise and thank all the match officials on the field.