IOC President Thomas Bach presented the Olympic Order to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Lausanne ©IOC/Christophe Moratal

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach presented former United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan with the Olympic Order in gold today in Lausanne.

Annan had been on an official visit to the IOC headquarters in the Swiss city and was able to attend an award ceremony where he received the accolade.

He was initially awarded the honour in 2007 but was unable to attend to collect it at the time due to his busy schedule.

The Olympic Order is the highest individual award of the Olympic Movement and recognises distinguished contributions towards its success, with the recipients being given a chain depicting the five rings of the Olympics.

It can also be awarded in silver and bronze, depending on grade.

“The Olympic spirit is something that has been with me for a long time,” Annan said after receiving the honour.

“Sport is a great education, some of the things I learnt that took me through life, through the secretary-generalship, I picked up in the sports field, where you learn to play in a team, where you learn to respect rules, where you learn not only to play in a team but to allow for individual brilliance.”

The Ghanaian was the seventh UN Secretary General, serving from 1997 to 2006, with the 77-year-old having attended several editions of the Olympic Games during his tenure.

Kofi Annan attended several Olympic Games during his tenure as UN secretary general
Kofi Annan attended several Olympic Games during his tenure as UN Secretary General ©Getty Images

He was awarded the Olympic Order following his support of sports initiatives and projects, including the proclamation of the International Year of Sport and Education in 2005.

He was also responsible for introducing and appointing the first Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace in 2001.

Bach praised Annan at the ceremony by citing his “many years of service to sport and for championing the unifying power of sport through the Kofi Annan Foundation” - which aims to use political will to deal with threats to peace, development and human rights.

Annan’s successor in the role of UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, has also received the Olympic Order, with former IOC President Jacques Rogge having bestowed the honour upon him in 2013.

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