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Lausanne, 13 May 09

International Olympic Committee (IOC), Lausanne, Switzerland. pic © www.worldofstock.com

The Olympic movement last week committed itself at a meeting with UN agencies to use its influence to promote peace and development through sports events it organizes around the world.

But the organization warned that it will be powerless without stronger support from governments: “One cannot expect the sports movement to succeed where social and political movements have failed," said Mr. Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in an address to delegates gathered at his Lausanne headquarters.

He was address the first International Forum on Sport, Youth and Development 8 May. It brought together the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with UN bodies represented by Mr. Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser of the UN Secretary General on Sport for Development and Peace, NGOs, sports federations and the academic world.

UN-HABITAT was represented by Mr. S. Ananthakrishnan, chief of the agency’s partners and youth department.
Mr. Ananthakrishnan, speaking on behalf of the UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, emphasised the importance of youth empowerment through sports and the correlation between participation in sport and personal empowerment.

“Sport is far more than a luxury or a form of entertainment. Access to and participation in sport is a human right and essential for individuals of all ages to lead healthy and fulfilling lives,” he said.

“Sport is critical to a child’s development. It teaches core values such as cooperation and respect. It improves health and reduces the likelihood of disease. It is a significant economic force providing employment and contributing to local development. And it brings individuals and communities together, bridging cultural or ethnic divides,” he added.

The forum asked the IOC and the UN to establish a working group to consider the best ways to generate international best practices report back in time for their findings to be incorporated into discussions in the next Olympic Congress in October.

The forum's conclusions note that the power of sport in peace building and development ranges from preventing violence to humanitarian relief and the long-term construction of society. In February this year, Mrs. Tibaijuka signed a pact with Mr. Rogge to promote peace and development through sports.

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