Sports have always been a gateway to better communication and international relations, and now, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has announced an historic deal with the United Nations signed by IOC President Thomas Bach and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The agreement underlines that the IOC and the UN “share the same values of contributing to a better and peaceful world through sport.”
“Sport can change the world, but it cannot change the world alone,” said Bach. “When placing sport at the service of humankind, we need and we want partnerships with other payers in society. The Olympic Movement is willing and ready to make its contribution to the most laudable efforts of the United Nations to maintain and build peace and to bring along social change.”
The agreement recognizes the goal of the IOC and the Olympic Movement to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport without discrimination of any kind. It also calls for respect of the autonomous organization of sport.
The two organizations call for sporting initiatives to promote social integration and economic development, including:
a) Access to sport for all among communities, in particular the most disadvantaged and marginalized populations
b) Quality physical education in school settings
c) Youth empowerment, education and skills development
d) Girls’ and women’s empowerment
e) Peace-building and community dialogue
f) Healthy life-styles promotion
g) Environmental sustainability
Within this framework, the IOC, together with National Olympic Committees, International Sports Federations, Organizing Committees and individual athletes, will work together with UN member states, UN Special Envoys, Special Advisors and Goodwill Ambassadors, UN Specialized Agencies and UN Funds.
“The first-ever Memorandum of Understanding between our organizations is a logical step after years of ever closer collaboration in using sport to promote development and peace,” said Secretary-General Ban. “Sport has great power to bring people together, improve public health and promote teamwork and mutual respect.”
On the occasion of the signing it was also announced that IOC Honorary President Rogge was appointed as the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Youth Refugees and Sport. The overall objective of the role will be to support the United Nations Secretary-General in advancing peace, development and an inclusive society through sport. On substantive issues, the Special Envoy will work closely with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
In his speech the IOC President reiterated his plea from the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi when he called on political leaders of the world to “respect the Olympic message of goodwill, of tolerance, of excellence and of peace.” He once again urged all those implicated in confrontation to act on the Olympic message of dialogue and peace.
“Please have the courage to have a direct personal dialogue at the highest level in the spirit of mutual respect, good will and peace,” he said.
The next Olympics takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from August 5-21, 2016.