Noble Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus has said he is "honoured and overwhelmed" to receive the Olympic Laurel.
"I'm honoured and overwhelmed to receive this Olympic Laurel. And so sad I can’t be there with you," he said in his acceptance speech.
Prof Yunus received the Olympic Laurel as only the second person in history when the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics took place on Friday.
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 IOC is taking the social dimension of sports very seriously, Prof Yunus shared on his verified Facebook page on Friday.
"You, athletes of the world, can provide the leadership in transforming this world," he said.
Prof Yunus called for creating a world of three zeros - zero net carbon emission, zero wealth concentration to end poverty and once for all, zero unemployment by unleashing the power of entrepreneurship in everyone.
He wished the IOC success with its mission to help transform this world to a more peaceful world through sport.
"I wish all of you best of luck for your competitions," he said, thanking all for this award. "That’s so special to me. Thank you."
“Bangladesh will be so proud of this award because Bangladesh is a country that doesn’t get close to an Olympic medal. But they’ve a cause to celebrate 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,” said Prof Yunus during a virtual press meet recently.
Prof Yunus is also the recipient of numerous international awards for his ideas and endeavours and is a member of the board of the United Nations Foundation.
In 2006, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding Grameen Bank, which pioneered the concepts of microcredit and microfinance for people living in poverty.
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.