Johann Olav Koss
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Alumnus
"I have seen how traumatized children can be transformed when their lives are normalized – not just through education, but by giving them strong, positive role-models and by engaging them in sport, art and music – in activities that give them a sense of pride in themselves."
Norwegian Olympic speed-skating champion Johann Olav Koss was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1994. Johann has served as a staunch advocate for UNICEF’s work on behalf of children, emphasizing the needs of children with disabilities and children affected by war.
In recognition of his efforts, Johann was presented with a special award for Outstanding Support to Children during UNICEF’s fiftieth anniversary celebration in 1996.
Johann is the founder of Right to Play, a humanitarian non-governmental organization committed to improving the lives of the most disadvantaged children and their communities through sport and play. During the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, Right to Play (then known as Olympic Aid) raised $13 million for UNICEF-supported immunization, education and psychological rehabilitation projects in developing countries.
That same year, Johann embarked on a mission to support a UNICEF programme that brought sports and recreation to children suffering from trauma after the genocide in Rwanda.
Johann was born in 1968 in Drammen, Norway. He has had an extraordinary career as a speed skater, winning a gold and silver medal at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, and three gold medals at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.