Underlining that the IOC and the United Nations “share the same values of contributing to a better and peaceful world through sport,” IOC President Thomas Bach and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon signed a truly historic agreement at the UN Headquarters in New York aimed at strengthening collaboration between the two organisations at the highest level. The Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed in the presence of the President of the General Assembly, means the IOC will now work with the UN Secretariat on a range of projects around the world. The recognises 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 organisation of sport.
Speaking at the announcement, IOC President Thomas Bach said, “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 players 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 full wording of Dr. Bach’s speech to be find under sport intern 20140428)
“The first-ever Memorandum of Understanding between our organisations 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.”
According to an IOC press release, the two organisations 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 marginalised 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, 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
On the occasion of the signing it was also announced that IOC Honorary President Jacques
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.
Accompanying President Bach were IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge, IOC member in
Norway and Olympic champion Ole Einar Bjørndalen, United States Olympic Committee Secretary
General Scott Blackmun and US Olympic marathon runner Meb Keflezighi. The delegation took part in a
meeting convened by the United Nations Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace at the
United Nations Headquarters, marking the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, the
first edition of which took place on 6 April.
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.”
This article was republished with permission from Karl-Heinz Huba, the editor and publisher of the Sport Intern.