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Yang Yang

About Yang Yang

Yang Yang, China’s "Queen on the Ice," is a retired Olympic short-track speed skater and one of China’s most famous athletes. Since 2021, she has been a strong advocate for refugees and, in 2023, was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

Widely recognized both within and beyond China, Yang Yang gained fame for her speed skating triumphs. Notably, she was the first Chinese athlete to secure a Winter Olympic gold medal at the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002, accumulating an impressive 59 world championships, surpassing all other Chinese athletes.

An avid advocate for the societal impact of sports, Yang has served in numerous prominent international sporting roles. In November 2019, Yang became the first Chinese person to be elected as Vice President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). She also served as the Chairperson of the Athlete’s Commission for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games.

Driven by her passion for the transformative potential of sports, Yang Yang has undertaken several initiatives, including establishing a foundation supporting sports education for young people in China, alongside being a strong advocate for refugees.

Yang’s involvement with UNHCR

Yang Yang actively supported the first Refugee Olympic Team during the 2016 Rio Summer Games. She started supporting UNHCR in 2021 by creating and amplifying social media content highlighting how sports can change the lives of those forced to flee conflict and persecution.

In a UNHCR event in May 2023 in Beijing, calling for more solidarity with refugees, Yang Yang stated, “I think sport, art, and humanitarianism have something in common; they all have the power to inspire hope through creativity and action. Refugee stories are not only about loss; they are also about survival, healing, and contributing skills and talents to the communities that welcome people forced to flee.”

Beyond introducing Chinese audiences to the Refugee Olympic Team, Yang Yang leverages her public profile to raise awareness about forced displacement through the universal language of sports. By supporting UNHCR’s sports strategy – More Than Just a Game – both within China and the global sports arena, she aspires to extend the joy and benefits of sports to more displaced and stateless people around the world.