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The power of sport is critical for development and peace

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The power of sport is critical for development and peace

As China heads to the midway point of the 2008 Olympic Games, the power of sport in promoting development and peace is clearly evident both in and outside the sports venues.

“Sport has an important role in improving the lives of people around the world. It builds bridges between individuals and across communities, providing a fertile ground for sowing the seeds of development and peace,” said Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary General on Sport for Development and Peace.

Sport is increasingly recognized as an important tool in helping the United Nations achieve its development goals by catalyzing advances in poverty reduction, universal education, gender equality, prevention of HIV/AIDS and other diseases, environmental sustainability as well as peace building and conflict resolution.

Both globally and in China, the United Nations is playing a leading role with its partners in maximizing the benefits sport can bring to the poor and to society as a whole. In China the UN has worked closely with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) and Chinese partners on projects to help ensure that the Olympics leave a positive legacy in terms of health, education, development and the environment.

“China has done an incredible job in making this Olympics not only successful but with legacies in development that will stay well after the Games. One only has to see the skyline of Beijing and realize the leaps this country has made to arrive at this point,” added Lemke.

Athletes, in particular, can act as role models and can actively use their influence and experience to promote sport for development and peace. Chinese basketball star Yao Ming and former Olympians such as swimmer Luo Xuejuan, ping pong player Deng Yaping, diver Gao Min, long-distance runner Wang Junxia and skater Yang Yang have all collaborated with the United Nations to promote poverty alleviation, public awareness on HIV/AIDS and environmental protection.

“Olympians are the greatest ambassadors of goodwill in the world of sports, especially the youth of today,” said Richard Fosbury, the President of the World Olympians Association.

For the past eight years, China has made great efforts to prepare Beijing and other cities for a world-class Olympics with an emphasis on environmental sustainability. Numerous polluting factories have been closed, moved or shifted to cleaner production, public transport has been expanded, new vehicle emission standards have been launched, thousands of old vehicles have been taken off the roads, and there is a growing public awareness of environmental protection.

“This has truly been a ‘Green Olympics’ in which development has been achieved with an emphasis on environmental sustainability. It is one of the great legacies of the Games of which China can be proud,” said Khalid Malik, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China. “The people of China will reap the benefits for generations to come,” he added.

For more information please contact Mia Turner, UN Resident Coordinator’s Office/Beijing, Tel. 861-10-8532-0910, Email: mia.turner@undp.org

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Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China

Published

Thursday, August 14, 2008 - 23:00

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