April 28 - International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today signed an historic agreement between the two organisations aimed at "contributing to a better and peaceful world through sport."
The agreement, signed in the presence of the President of the General Assembly John Ashe, at UN headquarters in New York City, 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.
It sets out a number of areas where sporting initiatives can be used to promote social integration and economic development.
These include access to sport for marginalised communities, quality physical education in schools and using sport to empower, educate and develop skills among young people, including girls and women.
Focus will also be put on peace-building and community dialogue, while healthy lifestyles and environmental sustainability will also be promoted.
To achieve these goals, the agreement will see the IOC and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) along with international sports federations, Games Organising Committees and individual athletes work together with UN member states, Special Envoys, Special Advisors and Goodwill Ambassadors, and other UN agencies.
"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 Ban Ki-moon.
"Sport has great power to bring people together, improve public health and promote teamwork and mutual respect."
Bach was joined at the gathering by former IOC President and current Honorary President Jacques Rogge, appointed as the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Youth Refugees and Sport.
The role will see Rogge help promote sport as an empowerment tool for youth from displaced and refugee communities towards peace, reconciliation, security, health, education, gender equality, and a more inclusive society in conflict areas such as Syria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
Also part of the IOC delegation were United States Olympic Committee (USOC) chief executive Scott Blackmun, Norwegian IOC member and eight-time Olympic biathlon gold medallist Ole Einar Bjørndalen and US runner Meb Keflezighi, winner of last month's Boston Marathon.
The delegation also met with UN officials as part of the continuation of the inaugural International Day of Sport for Development and Peace first celebrated earlier this month on April 6.
Peace and cooperation were the central themes of Bach's speech as he reiterated his message from his visit to the UN in November last year - and repeated at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics - when he called on political leaders to "respect the Olympic message of goodwill, of tolerance, of excellence and of peace."
"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.
"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."
"Sport is the only area of human existence with a truly universal law," continued Bach.
"This universal law of sport is based on global ethics, fair-play, respect and friendship.
"This means for sport and sport organisations that we have to be politically neutral without being apolitical.
"This means for our partners that they have to respect this responsible autonomy of the sport organisations and the universal law of sport.
"Otherwise international sport with its unifying, peace-building, dialogue-enforcing and respectful effects cannot exist."
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