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IOC marks International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

2018-04-08 09:06:00

As the United Nations celebrates today, 6 April, the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) welcomes the Day with its own message of how sport can help to build bridges and promote reconciliation for a peaceful and better world.

The UN talks about sport as a universal language that can be a powerful tool to promote peace, tolerance and understanding by bringing people together across boundaries and cultures. The overarching mission of the IOC is to put sport at the service of humankind. Unlike any other global event, the Olympic Games have the power to bring humanity, and all its diversity, together.

Contributing to building a peaceful and better world through sport is a Fundamental Principle of the Olympic Charter. The IOC cooperates extensively with partners, including NOCs and numerous United Nations agencies, as well as international governmental and non-governmental institutions, on activities and educational initiatives which use sport as a tool for development and social change, contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At the recent Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, we witnessed the impact of the Olympic spirit on the Korean peninsula. A powerful message of peace driven by sport and athletes was seen at the Opening Ceremony, where teams from the DPRK and the Republic of Korea, separated for decades by a military border, marched side by side; or when their women’s ice hockey players competed together as a unified team.

The intrinsic values found in the Olympic spirit and sport, such as teamwork, fairness, tolerance, discipline and respect for the opponent, as well as the rules of the game, are understood all over the world and can make the impossible, possible.

“The power of sport is its universality, it always builds bridges, it never erects walls. Sport has played a fundamental role in creating a bridge between North and South Korea,” said the IOC President. “The Olympic Games showed the world how to compete peacefully. They showed us that, despite all our differences, it is possible for humankind to live together in peace, respect and harmony.”

Sport is an important tool for education, for example it can empower young girls and women and advance gender equality. In March 2018, the IOC released 25 recommendations of the IOC’s Gender Equality Review Project, to provide a solutions-based approach to achieving gender equality on and off the field of play, across all sports organisations in the Olympic Movement. In this year’s Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018, all sports will be fully gender balanced.

As part of it Social Development programme, the IOC is also supporting refugees and displaced people with several specific programmes in cooperation with National Olympic Committees and governments and has created the Olympic Refuge Foundation. One of its aims is to create safe, basic and accessible sports facilities in areas where there are refugees, a displaced migrant population and internally displaced people.

Together with UNHCR, the IOC launched on 13 November 2017 the “Become the Light” campaign on the occasion of the adoption of the Olympic Truce Resolution by the UN General Assembly for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, to bring sustainable, solar powered light solutions to refugee camps. It follows the insight that many refugees in camps have no access to electric lighting, which is important for work, study and play.

The IDSDP, celebrated each year on 6 April, is an opportunity to highlight how sport can not only help unite people and encourage a culture of peace, but can also promote social development, build trust and self-belief, and establish bridges between groups in conflict.

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