Showcasing the power of sport to unite people and help build a peaceful and better world, Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Ambassadors, International Federations, National Olympic Committees (NOCs), other organisations and athletes around the world joined the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United Nations (UN) in marking the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) on 6 April.
Recognising sport’s universality and its power to drive social change and promote a culture of peace, the IDSDP saw a mobilisation both via virtual channels and on the ground at local, national and international level.
Countries from across the five continents voiced their support for the IDSDP. Activities included conferences and seminars; sports demonstrations and events; cultural and educational activities; and digital campaigns and promotions of existing sport for development and peace programmes.
In PyeongChang, host city to next year’s Olympic Winter Games, the Organising Committee celebrated peace through sport with a historic ice hockey match between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The match between the two neighbours was part of the Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II and was “a strong symbol of peace and the Olympic spirit” ahead of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
In Papua New Guinea, a series of events emphasising the value of sport and the benefits of staying active were organised by the country’s NOC. In the nation’s capital, children took part in fun sporting activities alongside Team PNG athletes. There was also a colourful rally in Bangladesh; a large-scale sporting and cultural event in Georgia, which featured an exhibition of children’s art work around the topic of sport for development and peace; and a documentary on how sport is helping young people overcome trauma in Gabon, produced by the NOC and broadcast nationally in a bid to encourage those who are visually impaired or who suffer from a disability or trauma to practise a physical activity.
International Sports Federations also got involved and showcased how their sports are making a positive contribution to society. For instance, World Rugby announced the five organisations that have been selected to join its Spirit of Rugby programme – a programme which uses rugby to tackle key issues such as health and gender equality. All five are using rugby for societal development, be it on a local or international scale, with activities in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America (read the full story). The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA)’s Foundation in turn launched digital campaigns to raise awareness about the role of sport in social development and peace building, and to call on their fans to show, respectively, how they play together and how sport has an impact on their lives (learn more here).
YOG Ambassadors acting as change-makers in their communities
Several YOG Ambassadors from previous editions of the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, Nanjing and Lillehammer also found creative ways to engage with their communities via projects on the ground, by collaborating with their NOCs, or via social media, supporting the #sport4betterworld campaign.
Guatemalan Gabriela Matus promoted her “United Play Project” which, having begun in April and running until the end of the year, sets out to help children in vulnerable communities in her country overcome social challenges by providing them with skills and opportunities using sporting activities. Read the full story here. Brazilian Krishna Memére supported a social judo project in Rio, which encourages social integration among children from different social and economic backgrounds.
Throughout the last 12 months, there have been many opportunities to highlight the power of sport and to promote solidarity and tolerance, not only among participants and fans at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, but also among people throughout the year beyond the Games.
For this year’s IDSDP, the IOC celebrated the Refugee Olympic Team which, as the first of its kind, made history at last year’s Olympic Games Rio 2016. Acting as a symbol of hope and peace for refugees across the globe, these refugee Olympic athletes have since become true ambassadors for the values of sport and inspired the world with the strength of their human spirit.