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The United Nations & The Olympics

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 15 2012 (IPS) - ‘‘July 26 was a memorable and emotional day. I spent the morning in Srebrenica, with mothers of those slain in the horrendous massacre. Later that same day I was in London, where the joy of our common humanity was evident in the faces of all the spectators and competitors I saw,’’ said Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of The United Nations, ‘‘The swing of emotions, and the sense of common purpose in both places, was deeply moving, both personally and because of the work of the United Nations, he added.

Credit: Julia Kallas/IPS

An exhibition, entitled “The United Nations and the Olympics”, co-organized by the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, the United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace and the Department of Public Information (DPI) was unveiled Wednesday in the Visitors’ Lobby of the General Assembly Building.

The Olympics torch, along with a t-shirt worn by Ban, during the opening of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games were on display.

‘‘That the organizers chose to honour the United Nations so visibly spoke volumes about the close links between the Olympic Movement and the United Nations. Those ties go far beyond shared principles and ideals,’’ he said, ‘‘they translate into everyday collaborations that help improve the lives of people in need in all regions,’’ he secretary-general added.

Ban also mentioned about the ‘International Inspiration’ social legacy programme, implemented by the UN children’s fund (UNICEF), which has reached millions of people in 20 countries through Sport for Development and Peace and education programmes.

Ban’s  Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace worked to raise awareness of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities during the Paralympic Games.

A special guest, Sarah Hughes, who in 2002 at the age of 16 won an Olympic gold medal in Salt Lake City in women’s figure skating,  is currently promoting sports and health styles for youth and children.

‘‘ I am honoured to be here today not just because I love the Olympics but to see how organizations like the United Nations understand what the game stand for,’’ said Hughes, ‘‘ the Olympics gives the world a chance to come together peacefully.’’

‘‘ For many athletes the ability to participate in sport offers a chance to escape poverty, violence, and abuse and create a better life for themselves and their family,’’ said Hughes.

Ban believes sport is a powerful tool for empowering girls and women.

‘‘This year’s resolution set a record — it was co-sponsored by every one of our 193 Member States — the first time this has ever happened,’’ he said, ‘‘achieving a universal end to hostilities — even for a day — may seem a dream, but it is a dream we must resolutely pursue each day – just as Olympians follow their own dream.’’

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