The "Giving is Winning" program, which encourages athletes to donate surplus sportswear to refugees in Asia, was initiated last week by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Olympic Committee at the Olympic Village in Beijing, the United Nations said in a release.
"The gift of sportswear from Olympic athletes around the globe inspires refugees and connects them to the world of sports," High Commissioner Antonio Guterres said. "Beyond happiness it brings them hope."
In the weeks before the Games, which begin Friday, some 50,000 articles of clothing have been collected and distributed to refugees in Rwanda, Tanzania, Chad, Moldova, Georgia and Panama.
IOC President Jacques Rogge said he hoped many more items could be collected because "the bigger impact we can make with this campaign, the better."
The initiative was first set up for the 2004 Athens Olympics, when more than 30,000 items were collected for refugees in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Eritrea, Kosovo and Tanzania.