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Power to Inspire Story

The Real Stories of Athletes Always Challenging Themselves

Power to Inspire Story: SPECIAL REPORT

"20th anniversary Laureus World Sports Awards" – An evening that marked a moment of history

The 20th anniversary Laureus World Sports Awards were held in Berlin on February 17, 2020. Established in 2000, Laureus is an organization that celebrates sporting excellence and uses the power of sport to transform the lives of children and young people. Laureus comprises of three key pillars; the Laureus World Sports Academy, Laureus Sport for Good and the Laureus World Sports Awards. MUFG joined as a global partner in 2018. The annual Laureus World Sports Awards honour the greatest and most inspirational sporting triumphs of the year and showcases the work of Laureus Sport for Good. On the Red Carpet, sporting legends and the sports stars of appear one after the other. Their words and actions transform the world――.
Photographers who gather from the world continuously set off a camera flash without break. Stars of sport appear on the red carpet one after another. Global athletics legends Eliud Kipchoge and  Michael Johnson are present, alongside  Alessandro Del Piero, Cafu, and Ruud Gullit from the world of football. Leading managers and coaches from a host of sports also attend the illustrious event. Arsene Wenger and Fabio Capello from football, Japan coach  Jamie Joseph from the world of rugby. We also see Lewis Hamilton from F1, the Rugby World Cup winning South African Rugby Team, Sergey Bubka the pole vaulter, and Katarina Witt the figure skater, as well as Manuela Schar from wheelchair racing and the Paralympic swimmer Alice Tai.

Athletes and legends dressed in tuxedos, suits, and gorgeous dresses have a different appeal from their usual sporting attire. The guests in attendance add their own sporting slant to the prestigious event by wearing their sneakers to walk the red carpet, proving their belief in the positive power of sport.

Nelson Mandela, the late president of South Africa, said that "sport has the power to change the world" which is the philosophy of Laureus. Sport changes the world and leads it in a better direction. The athletes working with Laureus as Academy Members and Ambassadors are not only on board because of their sporting accomplishments, they also share this spirit.

The venue was filled with stars of sport, business and entertainment, creating a glamorous atmosphere for an evening of celebration. The actor Hugh Grant hosted the 20th anniversary Awards. After warming up the venue with light talk, each Award was presented. Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi were joint-awarded the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year. Already icons of their sports, both Lewis and Lionel and looked very happy receiving the award, suggesting the value of Laureus and the work the organisation does to improve young lives through sport.

Subsequently, the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year (Simone Biles [Gymnastics]) and the Laureus World Team of the Year (Rugby South Africa Team)  Awards were presented, filling the venue with big applause. On this day, however, the biggest applause was given to Sophia Floersch, the racing driver who miraculously came back from a major crash and received the Comeback of the Year Award as well as to Oksana Masters, the Paralympic skier who received the Disability Award. Warm applause and cheers were evidence that people gathering in this venue share the spirit of Laureus.

As well as celebrating excellence in sport, the event also showcased the role sport can play in changing young lives for the better. "South Bronx United", the soccer programme in New York received the Sport for Good Award. This programme supports the youth in poor areas so that they can accomplish results in their career as well as in the local community through soccer. It may be a small step in the big purpose to "change the world with sports". Yet, young peoples' smiles on screen communicated the significance of the project and the positive impact such programmes can have on young people.
Top athletes such as Hamilton and Messi and members of South Bronx United show us their efforts to overcome challenge and difficulties through the power of sport. These athletes excite us. Such excitement becomes hope and energy for tomorrow. It is probably something that everyone in the world feels. Looking at many legends and star players close at hand in Berlin excited us many times. Their inspiration does not change even outside of the ground or stadium. Their words and actions will certainly change the world.
Words: Kosuke Kawakami Photography: Laureus
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