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"
OLYMPIC REVIEW39OLYMPISM IN ACTIONproudly described it: "Sport builds bridges betweenindividuals and across communities, providing a fertileground for sowing the seeds of development andpeace."Indeed, sport carries a message of hope andopportunity making it an undisputed instrument forthe advancement of peace and development - thesame kind of efforts pushed by the UN to develop and maintain friendly relations among nations andpromote social progress and better living standardsfor all. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon puts it,".the partnership extends across the world, fromnational capitals to war zones, and carries out scoresof projects to help refugees, educate children andprotect our planet."The most telling effort has come in the last tenyears, where the UN and the world of sport haveteamed up to use sport as a tool for development -particularly to achieve the Millennium DevelopmentGoals (MDGs) - goals identified as some of theplanet's most pressing issues, and requiring thesupport and involvement of everyone. Every effort has to be put in place to achieve those ambitious goals. Today, it remains a scandal, asthe third millennium dawns on our beautiful andbountiful planet, that a billion people - one in everysix of us - should remain in extreme poverty. That iswhy everyone, from government to the private sectorto civil society, should do everything possible to helppeople who fall victim to the dehumanising conditionsof extreme poverty.Yes, the UN and the world of sport, have cometogether in different communities, schools, cities andcountries to use sport as a tool for development; as atool for helping people; as a tool to promoteenvironmental awareness and action; to promote HIVprevention, care, treatment, and support; to fightdiscrimination and intolerance of any type; toempower women and young people from all walks oflives - above all to reach out to those who live in themidst of poverty, disease, disaster or conflict with amessage of hope and a better tomorrow. In the end, well-being of people and the planet,are our medals and trophies! ?The IOC's partners are vital to all the work that theCommittee carries out - not least its commitmentto employ sport as a catalyst for social change. TheNational Olympic Committees (NOCs), InternationalFederations (IFs), Olympic Games OrganisingCommittees (OCOGs) and Top Partners all workhand-in-hand with the IOC to enhance its efforts topromote humanitarian causes through sport, bymaking a variety of contributions to these projectsin a number of different ways. Their support is essential in helping run thevarious programmes that the IOC organises inconjunction with the United Nations and otherinternational organisations. These projects rangefrom providing basic human needs and improvingsports infrastructure in war-torn countries, toacademic programmes for studying the OlympicMovement and training scholarships for athletespreparing to compete in the Olympic Games.One such project that sees the IOC, sponsors,NOCs, IFs, OCOGs and international organisationsall working together is the Giving is Winninginitiative - a joint IOC-UNHCR (United Nations HighCommissioner for Refugees) programme that isorganised in the run-up to each edition of theOlympic Summer Games. The campaign - which was initially launchedprior to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens - asksall partnering organisations, sponsors and athletesto donate unused sportswear and casual clothing,which is then distributed by the UNHCR to variousrefugee camps around the world. Since the projectfirst launched, more than 100,000 items of clothinghave reached communities in need in 14 differentcountries. Following the success of the Athens2004 programme, Giving is Winning was repeatedfor the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Having showntheir support in Athens, the British OlympicAssociation once again supported the initiative bydonating about 4,000 items of sports clothing,which were sent to refugee camps in Rwanda. Thecamps, which house refugees from Congo andBurundi, used the donation to help support men'sand women's basketball, football, karate andvolleyball teams.During the Games, contributions were receivedfrom many more NOCs, including the AustralianOlympic Committee, which donated over 8,000items of clothing while the team was in Beijing.This was then sent to Nepal, where Bhutaneserefugees were able to benefit from the gift.The build-up to Beijing 2008 also saw 50Singaporean athletes donate over 800 items ofsports clothing to refugees in Moldova through acampaign organised by the Singapore NationalOlympic Council. Once the Games were over, theNOC also donated a surplus of 6,000 sports itemsto UNHCR Burundi.Other significant contributions to the campaignwere made by the Saudi Arabian NOC, whosedonation of ?50,000 allowed 500 items of sportsequipment and 13,500 T-shirts to be given out byUNHCR Tanzania, and the Dubai InternationalHumanitarian City - a global humanitarian and aidhub in the United Arab Emirates, whose board ofDirectors is chaired by IOC Member HRH PrincessHaya Al Hussein. Its huge donation of over 19,000items of sports and casual clothing wasdistributed to refugee camps and transit centres in Rwanda.Many other NOCs, IFs, TOPs and OCOGs alsocontributed to the programme, with the generosityof all members of the Olympic Family ensuring thatthe project was a huge success."In reality, there is no other possibility for theUNHCR to give young refugees sports clothing withsuch an inherent meaning as the clothes comingfrom the Olympic Family," explains Nick Van Praag,Director of External Relations at UNHCR. "TheUNHCR is fortunate that the IOC has beencooperating with us for the past 13 years."The IOC also cooperates with many other UnitedNations agencies, as well as with otherinternational governmental and non-governmentalinstitutions to develop and implement its projectsusing sport as a tool for development, and theNOCs, IFs, OCOGs and sponsors are all importantpartners in these activities as well, helping tospread the work of the Olympic Movement acrossthe globe.GIVING IS WINNINGBelow German athletes making a donation to theprogramme at the Games in Athens