Wrapping up the 2010 SportAccord convention in Dubai, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged sports leaders to do even more to harness the power of sport as a force for social change.
“The positive benefit of sports can go much further than the physical and mental impact for the individual. It is vital, too, for the health and strength of our societies,” Annan told delegates at the final day of the annual gathering of leaders from International Federations and other stakeholders of the sports world.
The self-described “football fanatic” said sport has a proven ability to bring people together; break down racial and gender barriers; encourage cultural understanding; reintegrate refugees; heal mental trauma; and encourage economic development.
Olympic Games a Model
Citing the Olympic Games as an example, Annan said sport can also play a bigger role in protecting the environment.
“It is good to see the Olympic Movement putting such strong emphasis on environmental responsibility at the Games in Beijing, Vancouver and in London 2012,” he said.
Annan, who forged closer ties between the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee during his tenure at the UN, noted approvingly that the two organisations continue to work jointly on a host of issues. The IOC obtained UN Observer status in October.
Sports for Hope
Meeting at the same time as SportAccord, the IOC Executive Board received an update on another project to leverage the power of sport, the new Olympic Youth Development Centre in Zambia.
The sports complex, a pilot project of the IOC’s Sports for Hope Programme and supported by several International Federations, will offer a variety of sports facilities, as well as educational programmes, health services and community activities. It is set to open on 11 May, and will be owned and operated by the National Olympic Committee of Zambia.