IOC and UN reaffirm commitment to development through sport

The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, today welcomed United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, where the two leaders reviewed the joint activities that the organisations had put in place in 2010 and reaffirmed their commitment to a number of upcoming initiatives using sport as a tool for peace, education and development.

The IOC and UN strengthened ties in 2010, with the IOC attending for the first time the UN General Assembly meetings as an observer. The decision by the UN to grant the IOC UN observer status in October 2009 was a tribute to the longstanding partnership between the two organisations and to the IOC’s contribution to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through sport.

By using sport as a tool for change, the IOC and its partners have implemented various activities across the globe in fields such as humanitarian assistance, peace-building, education, gender equality, the environment and the fight against HIV/AIDS.

As a concrete example, the IOC recently teamed up with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to launch an ambitious three-year sport and education programme for some 8,500 young people living in the Osire refugee settlement in Namibia. The programme is designed to involve young people in sports activities in order to alleviate some of the major problems affecting them, namely teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, and drug abuse.

Other common activities include the ‘Together we can stop HIV and AIDS’ campaign conducted during the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver as well as the UN agency’s strong involvement in the Culture and Education Programme put in place during the first Youth Olympic Games in Singapore last summer that reached out to some 3,600 young athletes and their entourage.

“The UN Secretary General and I had a very good meeting that allowed us to review the numerous programmes that have been jointly activated, and discussed issues of mutual concern,” President Rogge said after the meeting. “As a global sports organisation, the IOC has the moral duty to place sport at the service of humanity. This mission was reconfirmed by the Olympic Congress held in 2009 in Copenhagen, where the Secretary General gave a very inspiring speech. We are proud to be a part, through sport, of the international community’s efforts to achieve the MDGs. These goals have been identified by the UN as some of the world’s most pressing issues that require the support and involvement of everyone. We look forward to continuing our collaboration in 2011 and beyond,” he added.

Among upcoming projects are the joint efforts that will be deployed to find solutions to ease access of Palestinian and Israeli athletes to sporting competitions and the adoption by the UN of the Olympic Truce Resolution for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The IOC also updated the UN on its plan to build its second Olympic Youth Development Centre in Haiti – a project also in line with the MDGs. Further to the success of the first centre inaugurated last year in Lusaka, Zambia, as part of the IOC’s Sports for Hope programme, it was decided to replicate the concept in Haiti. The project, which combines sport with education and healthcare programmes, will help rebuild local communities, promote social values and help the people look towards a better future after the devastating earthquake that hit the country one year ago.


The IOC delegation was led by IOC President Jacques Rogge and composed of IOC Vice-President Mario Pescante, IOC Executive Board member Denis Oswald, IOC members Joseph S. Blatter, HRH Princess Haya Al Hussein, Patrick Baumann, and Gian-Franco Kasper, and Chief of Staff Christophe de Kepper and Director of International Cooperation and Development T.A. Ganda Sithole.

The UN delegation, headed by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, included Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser, Kim Won-soo, Senior Adviser; Simona Petrova, Director and Trip Coordinator, Sergey Shaposhnikov, Chief of Protocol, United Nations, Geneva, and Poul Hansen, Head of Office, UNOSDP.


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