IOC President Thomas Bach has claimed the Olympic Games are the only event to "bring the entire world together" ©Getty Images

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has claimed the Olympic Games is the only event to "bring the entire world together" in an address given to mark International Day of Peace.

International Day of Peace is to be celebrated around the world today, with Bach discussing "the unifying power of sport" in a video message.

"Sport contributes to peace by unifying people," he said. 

"The Olympic Games today are the only event in our world which manages to really bring the entire world together. 

"Athletes come to the Olympic Games respecting the same rules, all being equal, without any discrimination."

The postponed Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, now set to take place in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, has recently been used as a symbol of hope - although the IOC has also been subjected to criticism from some quarters over its stance on issues of human rights and athlete activism. 

Bach repeated this sentiment of Tokyo 2020 being a beacon of hope in his message.

"This post-coronavirus world will be very different from the one we used to live in," he said.

"And I hope that we all have learned from this crisis that we need more solidarity, within societies and among societies. 

"Only in this joint effort can we overcome this crisis and prevent a new crisis. 

"The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, which have been postponed to 2021, will send a message of hope, of peace and unity of humanity."

The global health crisis is still threatening Tokyo 2020, however, with organisers currently working through a number of simplification measures to reduce the cost of the Games, including those relating to the number of people involved, infrastructure and Ceremonies.

A coronavirus countermeasures task force, formed of officials from the Japanese Government, Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, are also assessing possible scenarios and measures that could allow the Games to run as expected.

Aside from the concerns surrounding COVID-19, the IOC is also being scrutinised for Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which states: "No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas."

Calls for Rule 50 to be relaxed or even abolished have grown in recent months in the wake of global demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in the United States.

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee Athletes' Advisory Council is one of the high-profile bodies to have called for Rule 50 to be scrapped.

Following a consultation process with athletes from across the world, the IOC Athletes' Commission hopes to finalise a Rule 50 recommendation in the first quarter of 2021.

The IOC is also being criticised for its response to the execution of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari.

Despite Thomas Bach's positive message about Tokyo 2020, there are still concerns the coronavirus pandemic may affect the upcoming Olympic Games ©Getty Images
Despite Thomas Bach's positive message about Tokyo 2020, there are still concerns the coronavirus pandemic may affect the upcoming Olympic Games ©Getty Images

Athlete representation groups such as Global Athlete and the World Players Association have urged the IOC to expel Iran from the international sports community - something IOC vice-president suggested is not on the cards. 

Despite the apparent divisions in the Olympic Movement, Bach emphasised the importance of solidarity in his message.

"Solidarity is not just about respecting each other, but also helping each other and being part of a community," he said.

"And this is what these athletes and the National Olympic Committees are doing together with the IOC. 

"We are supporting this principle, not only by organising the Olympic Games, but also by distributing 90 per cent of all our revenues to the development of sport worldwide in real Olympic solidarity."

Bach also revealed his top three demonstrations of peace in sporting history. 

This included the unified Korean team at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Games, Nelson Mandela awarding South Africa the trophy at the 1995 Rugby World Cup - the first major sporting event to take place in South Africa following the end of apartheid - and the creation of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team. 

"When I saw this team, marching behind the Olympic flag into the stadium and the way they were received by their fellow athletes and by the public, it still gives me goosebumps today," Bach said.