“A better world through sport”, as UN and IOC sign agreement

olympic-ringsCollaboration between the United Nations and the Olympic movement has stepped up a level with the signing of a historic agreement between the IOC and the UN.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon signed the agreement yesterday at UN Headquarters in New York, aimed at strengthening collaboration between the two organisations at the highest level.

The agreement underlined that the IOC and the UN “share the same values of contributing to a better and peaceful world through sport.”

The IOC has had UN Observer Status since 2009, and has long enjoyed strong ties with individual UN agencies. The new agreement means the IOC will now work with the UN Secretariat on a range of projects around the world.

The organisations have called for sporting initiatives to promote social integration and economic development, and outlined steps  including:

  • Access to sport for all among communities, in particular the most disadvantaged and marginalised populations
  • Quality physical education in school settings
  • Youth empowerment, education and skills development
  • Girls’ and women’s empowerment
  • Peace-building and community dialogue
  • Healthy life-styles promotion
  • Environmental sustainability

Within this framework, the IOC, together with National Olympic Committees, International Sports Federations, Organising Committees and individual athletes, will work together with UN member states, UN Special Envoys, Special Advisors and Goodwill Ambassadors, UN Specialised Agencies and UN Funds.

“Sport can change the world, but it cannot change the world alone. When placing sport at the service of humankind, we need and we want partnerships with other payers in society,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.

“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.”

Secretary-General Ban said the Memorandum of Understanding between the organisations is a logical step after years of ever closer collaboration in using sport to promote development and peace. “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.

The delegation accompanying Bach and Rogge, were IOC member in Norway and Olympic champion Ole Einar Bjørndalen, US Olympic Committee Secretary General Scott Blackmun and US Olympic marathon runner Meb Keflezighi.

Keflezighi, a silver medallist at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and most recently the winner of the Boston Marathon on 21 April, spoke of how sport changed his life after he was first exposed to organised sport after moving to the United States from Eritrea at the age of 10.

“Sport is its own school of life, and some say I have earned a PhD. Sport taught me self-discipline, commitment and perseverance. It taught me that success is achieved in small steps, through hard work and lessons learned from your mistakes,” Keflezighi said.

“In addition to these life skills, sport gave me something else that was extremely important to a refugee from a war-torn country. Sport gave me hope. I want to commend the IOC and the UN for using sport to bring hope to refugee camps and peace to regions plagued by violence. I know that these efforts are making a difference.”

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