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Yunus receives Olympic Laurel award at Tokyo Olympics opening

  • Published at 01:21 pm July 23rd, 2021
Prof Muhammad Yunus
Prof Muhammad Yunus has been awarded the Olympic Laurel at the opening ceremony of Tokyo Olympics on Friday, July 23, 2021 Facebook

The Grameen Bank founder becomes the second person to receive the honour

Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus has been awarded the Olympic Laurel at the opening ceremony of Tokyo Olympics on Friday night.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that Yunus will become the second recipient of the laurel, which was introduced in 2016 to honor people who have "made significant achievements in education, culture, development and peace through sport", reports Xinhua.

The distinction was created by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to honour outstanding individuals for their achievements in education, culture, development and peace through sport.

The first-ever Olympic Laurel was awarded to the Kenyan Olympian and social changemaker Kip Keino on 5 August 2016, during the Opening Ceremony of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro.

Initiated for Rio 2016, the Olympic Laurel is to be awarded at the opening ceremony of each summer edition of the Olympic Games.

Yunus reiterated the call for ensuring vaccine equality around the world, noting that all the people need to be safe, breaking the wall of profit.

“We’re talking much to make the vaccine patent-free. We’re working to get the patent out of the vaccine because the vaccine is a wall of profit and the wall of profit makes it tough for people to get the vaccine,” he told a virtual press conference earlier on Friday.

His remarks came when asked what he expects from the international community to ensure vaccines for all in a recent media briefing mentioning that they have been working for more than a year to ensure vaccine equality around the world, reports UNB.

“Bangladesh will be so proud of this award because Bangladesh is a country that doesn’t get close to an Olympic medal. But they have a cause for a celebration now. The whole world will watch a Bangladeshi receiving an Olympic award which will make every single person of Bangladesh proud of it. I believe it’ll be something that Bangladesh will remember for long,” he said.

Talking further about the profit wall, Prof Yunus said: “Unless you break this wall or throw it away, vaccines cannot flow in the direction of people. There’s a lot of capacity in the world to produce vaccines. The patent wall doesn’t allow that to happen.”

He said the profit world is so stubborn and some people want to make a profit like they did in 2020.

“Three top pharmaceutical companies have made $26 billion in profit collectively out of vaccines so far."

“They’ll make more, and more pharmaceutical companies will also join them. So, the thing is now profit vs life. People are dying and some people are trying to protect vaccines for their purposes. We said break that, otherwise, it (vaccine equality) won’t happen. We only got a fraction of the world population vaccinated to date,” Yunus added.

Only a fraction of the world’s population has been inoculated so far. As of today, roughly 4% of the population of Bangladesh got vaccinated.

Prof Yunus said if the speed of the vaccination remains the same, it would take more than 57 years to vaccinate all the people of the world.

He finds it as an achievement in Bangladesh in terms of vaccination so far.

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