Unite for peace
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Peace and Sport is calling for unity by asking everyone to demonstrate their commitment to dialogue by raising their #WhiteCard, a symbol of peace through sport.

Statement written by Peace and Sport and signed by the Champions for Peace and the International sporting community.

A short time ago at the Beijing Olympics, which now feels like an age, a gesture of sporting fraternity marked the medal ceremony for the freestyle ski jumping event. After winning the first medal for his country, Oleksandr Abramenko from Ukraine gave a long hug to his competitor, Ilia Burov, representative of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team.

This symbolic embrace on the podium went unnoticed by most. A few days later, Russian tanks would cross the border dividing the two countries – war chosen over dialogue.

Since then, sanctions have been imposed in finance, business, and many more areas. In addition, sports institutions worldwide have legitimately added their exclusion measures against this unacceptable violation of international law through an attack on a sovereign State.

Should the embrace between Abramenko and Burov be left in the past? That would be a failure to recognize the power of sport to bring people together, and to cross boundaries. That would be to forget that sport, in its neutrality, equality and universality, is a fantastic vehicle for creating dialogue and promoting peace. That would be to forget that there is a global community of peace through sport, which looks beyond borders that divide and arms that kill. This community shares values and believes in the effectiveness of “soft diplomacy”, and the positive influence it can have on society.

Recent years provide many examples of initiatives that have made it possible to overcome hatred and division and to provide solutions worldwide in areas affected by conflict, disaster, and great poverty.

The Peace and Sport global community can and must play an essential role in the current crisis by immediately taking concrete actions led by Champions for Peace and opinion leaders.

For more than 15 years, Peace and Sport has been a force for peace, supported by athletes and Champions for Peace worldwide. The leadership of these athletes brings hope to people and challenges decision-makers. A notable example of this is when Didier Drogba, Vice-President of Peace and Sport, and his teammates launched the ‘Khartoum appeal’ peace process in the Ivory Coast in 2005.

Since the beginning of the crisis, athletes worldwide have taken part in multiple activities to promote peace, including from Russia and Ukraine, providing powerful examples.

Confronted by the violent conflict, the sports movement has mobilized on a worldwide scale to make its voice heard. Peace and Sport wishes to pay tribute to this commitment to peace by the world of sport. This movement must gain momentum. Everyone can act at their level. “Do your own little bit of good wherever you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world” reminded the South African the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in 1984 Desmond Tutu.

How can you take action?

Peace and Sport invites everyone to demonstrate their commitment to dialogue by raising their #WhiteCard, a symbol of peace through sport. This tool, developed each year around April 6th, the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, must be used to demonstrate the power of sport as a response to the conflict.

On all occasions – before the games, in the stands, wherever possible – unite around this symbol of peace to find the response provided by sport for peace.

Henri de Montherland once said: “A single man can start a war, but it takes two to make peace”.

So let millions of us get together to demand peace and build it! Together, let’s make every day April 6th!

  • Read the full statement and sign it here

This statement was originally published on the Peace and Sport website.