Biathle_startOctober 19 - A Biathle Championship for Peace has been held to mark the official opening of the Congolese Federation of Modern Pentathlon.

The event, in South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, aims to promote peace and help calm ethnic tensions in the province which was hit hard by the war.

Backed by Peace and Sport, a neutral international organisation, the championship expects to attract 200 athletes and heralds the beginning of a long-term commitment to peace in the country.

Despite the official end to fighting in 2002, the population of South Kivu - particularly young people - continues to suffer violence from armed gangs.

This region is one of the most disadvantaged in the country with a poverty rate of 84.7 per cent.

The event is intended to reconcile divided communities, encourage dialogue, foster social stability and create the necessary conditions for sustainable peace.

Peace and Sport's patronage ensures it will be completely neutral and non-biased, officials claimed.

After the event, the newly-created Congolese Federation of Modern Pentathlon, along with Peace and Sport, will give support to programmes dedicated to vulnerable youngsters in the region, so that Biathle can be practised in a structured and supervised environment throughout the year.

Created in 1999 by the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), Biathle is a new discipline consisting of two of the base events of Modern Pentathlon: running and swimming which is used to nurture youth into the original Olympic sport of Modern Pentahlon.

Helping the UIPM to develop Biathle in the DRC addresses one of Peace and Sport's major objectives: to make sport and its inherent values of peace, tolerance and fraternity accessible to the widest possible number of people, without social or economic discrimination.

Biathle falls into the category of an 'adapted practice' as it is particularly popular and inexpensive and can be practised without equipment or infrastructure.

It is therefore easy to implement, even in the most deprived areas.

President and founder of Peace and Sport, Joel Bouzou - himself a former world champion in Modern Pentathlon - was present at the first Biathle for Peace Championship in DRC.

In 2009, Peace and Sport and the UIPM organised a Biathle Championship for Peace in Burundi, which borders the DRC.