OLYMPIC REVIEW37OLYMPISM IN ACTIONLeft Sport is used by the IOC to promotefriendship and equality among young peopleRightYoung girls enthusiastically playing agame of football in YemenBelow Mario Pescante, pictured with Ban Ki-moon, was named as Permanent Observerfor the IOC to the United Nationsconfidence and esteem, and hone leadership skills. Theproject is designed to be self-sustaining within thecommunity, with the sports leadership playing animportant role in choosing and deciding the curriculum. Yet the IOC President continues to caution thatalthough sport has a tremendous capacity to make adifference, as indeed has already been demonstrated,it should never be viewed as a panacea for all of theworld's ills. However, the international community hasaccepted that the convening power of sport and itsinfluence on "The Now Generation" cannot becompared to any other human activity. HIV- and AIDS-awareness campaigners from Beijing to CapeTown have used sport as an effective tool to carry the message to young people and the community at large. UN agencies such as the World Food Programme,the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugeesand UNAIDS are not the only organisations withwhom the IOC collaborates. The Red CrossMovement and various NGOs have provided theirexpertise in delivering IOC contributions. Tsunami,earthquake and war victims in numerous parts of theworld received aid relief from the IOC with most of itproffered through specialist agencies andorganisations to increase effectiveness.Several international sports federations areinvolved in major human development andhumanitarian activities of their own. They allocatesignificant budgets to these activities. Individuals andnon-sport organisations, sponsors and the Olympicfamily have joined forces with the IOC to drive thesuccessful Giving is Winning scheme (more on thisoverleaf). Under this project, athletes, officials, IOCMembers and partners of the Olympic Movement areencouraged to supply clothing which the IOC in turndonates to young people in refugee camps in Africa,Asia and Europe via the United Nations HighCommissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).The MDGs may have an "expiry" date; theOlympic Movement's agenda, however, does not. Afterall, Olympic Values that seek to place sport at theservice and development of humankind is the IOC'sraison d'être. There will always be a need to improvelives, to educate young people so that they can bettertheir future, to invest in providing athletes withemployability skills so that they can contribute to society beyond the track. Making a difference to the lives of young people,today or in the future, in peace or in conflict, is whatthe Olympic values of excellence, friendship andrespect are about. The children of economically marginalised andtroubled communities in places as diverse as theColumbian island of Isla Fuerte, conflict-ravagednorthern Uganda, Afghanistan and Haiti can alwayslook to the sporting movement to play its part inmaking their lives at least bearable and look to thefuture with more hope and expectation. ?
Is the United Nations going for medals andtrophies, too? Are you wondering, why anorganisation best known for its tireless work in theadvancement of socio-economic development,environmental protection, peace building, conflictprevention, human rights, education, democracy,better health, gender equality and empowerment of women, a safer and hospitable world for presentand future generations, and more, is interested in sports?In reality, the issues stated above are too big, toocomplicated, and advancing any one of them islargely beyond the capacity of a single organisation. Itis in that spirit that the UN has enlisted the power andinfluence of many more organisations as its partnersto implement a wide range of activities, projects andprogrammes around the world.One such prominent partner is the world of sport and what it represents in our society. Sport is atthe crossroads of all human development and itsever-increasing popularity and influence has made itan important component of daily life. Today, sport ismore than sustaining individual fitness, or just a wayof spending leisure time. More than anything else, it embodies valuableprinciples, represents social integration, harmony andexcellence, is a unifying language and a source ofcivic and national pride. As the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser onSport for Development and Peace, Mr. Wilfried Lemke,38OLYMPIC REVIEWOLYMPISM IN ACTIONSPORTANDTHEUNITEDNATIONSWONDY ASNAKE, PROGRAMME OFFICER, UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME,EXPLAINS WHY THE UNITED NATIONSIS SEEKING THE HELP OF SPORTING BODIES TO HELP IT DELIVER INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT ACROSS THE GLOBE"SPORT IS AT THE CROSSROADS OF ALL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND ITS EVER INCREASING POPULARITY AND INFLUENCE HAS MADE IT AN IMPORTANT COMPONENT OF DAILY LIFE"