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Johann Koss
Johann Koss is one of the greatest winter athletes of all time. The four‐time Olympic Gold Medalist in speed skating made world headlines when he won three Gold Medals at the 1994 Lillehammer Games in the 1,500‐, 5,000‐ and 10,000‐metre events. Over the course of his career, he broke a total of 10 world records, won three World All‐round Championships, and won numerous World Cups and National Championships.

Johann’s achievements on the ice have since been eclipsed by his efforts on behalf of Right To Play, an athlete‐driven international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play as a tool for development of children and youth in the most disadvantaged areas of the world. Johann first became involved with Right To Play (then known as Olympic Aid) in 1993 when he visited the African country of Eritrea. He was profoundly moved by ! the plight of the children. At Lillehammer, Johann donated the prize money from his 1500m victory to Olympic Aid and challenged other athletes to do the same.

Since Lillehammer, Johann has dedicated himself to growing Right To Play into an internationally recognized non‐government organization (NGO) and a leader in Sport for Development. Sport for Development uses sport and play to enhance the healthy physical and psycho‐social development of children and build stronger communities. Today, Right To Play develops and implements child and community development programs in more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, working with the UN and other agencies, including UNICEF, UNHCR, GAVI and WHO.

Outside his role as President and CEO of Right To Play, Johann is active in a number of sport and Olympic causes. In 199! 7, Johann was appointed Chairman of the Norwegian Government Forum against Drugs and Doping. He is also on the board of an organization called “MOT” (Courage) that mobilizes Norwegian athletes in the fight against drugs and doping. He was a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athlete’s Commission from 1998 to 2002 and was on the Medical Commission and the executive board of the IOC 2000 Commission handling issues of reform. He also served as a founding board and executive board member of the World Anti‐Doping Agency (2000 to 2002) where he initiated the Athlete anti‐doping passport. In 1994, Johann was appointed Special Representative for Sport for UNICEF International.

The people of Norway awarded Johann the distinction of “Best Norwegian Olympian Ever” in 1994 and he received the Norwegian Olympic Committee’s highest award – The Fearnleys Honorary Award. Johann is also a recipient of numerous international awards including Spor!tsman of the Year by USA Sports Illustrated, the Jesse Owens Award, the International Athletic Foundation Award in Los Angeles, and the Jackie Robinson Humanitarian Award. Johann was given the Child Survival Award in 1996 by the Carter Center in Atlanta and, later that year during the celebration of UNICEF’s 50th anniversary, he was given UNICEF’s Honorary Award.

Johann was declared “One of 100 Future Leaders of Tomorrow” by TIME Magazine, and “One of 1,000 Global Leaders” by the World Economic Forum. Johann completed his undergraduate medical training at the University of Queensland, and recently completed his executive MBA at the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. In June 2005, Johann received a Doctor of Laws Honorary Degree from Brock University, and in 2009 he received a second Doctor of Laws Honorary Degree from the University of Calgary. In January 2006,! the World Economic Forum named Johann a Young Global Leader.

Right To Play’s International Headquarters are in Toronto, Canada with National Offices in Canada, The Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Entries by Johann Koss

Congratulations Malala, a Voice for Us All

(0) Comments | Posted October 10, 2014 | 1:57 PM

It is with great admiration that I offer my congratulations to Malala Yousafzai on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala not only represents the millions of girls--and children--around the world struggling to ensure their right to an education, she represents the tremendous power and potential of young people to change...

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World Recognizes a New Day for Play

(0) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 1:24 AM

When I think about the power of sport and play to transform children's lives and change our world, I think about kids like Daphine.

At 15 years old, if you ask Daphine what she wants to be when she grows up, she will tell you: the president...

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Olympic Athletes and the Power to Give Back

(0) Comments | Posted February 17, 2014 | 3:27 PM

An Olympic athlete is constantly striving to do better -- to get a better score, clock a better time, or get the better of their competition. There is something inside of elite athletes that drives them to keep pushing past their limits in the pursuit of a championship title or...

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The Day I Met Mandela: My Lesson in Unity, Freedom and Equality Through Sport

(0) Comments | Posted December 5, 2013 | 7:26 PM

I, like most people, am inspired by Nelson Mandela. In 2000, I had the good fortune of meeting him in a quiet, unassuming green room, which turned out to be an unforgettable and defining moment in my life.

We met at a pre-Olympic conference, where I presented him with...

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Restoring Peace to Syria's Children Through Play

(1) Comments | Posted September 20, 2013 | 6:40 PM

They say it's the little things in life that are most important, and for Sireen Jadallah that couldn't be more true.

She is a Program Supervisor for Right To Play in Jordan's Za'atari Refugee Camp, home to more than 150,000 refugees of the Syrian crisis. For her, hope lives...

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Harnessing the Power of Sport and Play for Development and Peace

(0) Comments | Posted September 23, 2011 | 12:43 PM

As a former Olympic athlete, I have experienced the incredible impact that sport can have firsthand. But, it wasn't until 1993, during a trip to Eritrea, as an ambassador for Olympic aid, that I began to truly understand the influence that sport can have on a variety of developmental issues,...

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Davos 2011: Communities of Action to End Extreme Poverty

(1) Comments | Posted January 25, 2011 | 3:38 PM

This week in Davos, Switzerland, policy leaders from around the world will convene amidst a range of profound undercurrents that are redefining many tenets of global cooperation. At one side of the spectrum, longstanding economic powers are grappling with high unemployment, tight budgets, and a profound sense of economic fragility....

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