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UN and International Olympic Committee mark 'Olympic Day Run' 2005

UN and International Olympic Committee mark 'Olympic Day Run' 2005

With millions of people around the world set to take the traditional run to mark the birth of the modern Olympics, the leaders of the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today called on the sporting community to re-dedicate itself to the advancement of humankind and universal peace.

"[We] have seen many examples of how sport can build self-esteem, leadership skills, community spirit and bridges across ethnic or communal divides," said Secretary-General Kofi Annan and International Olympic Committee President, Jacques Rogge, in a joint message to mark this year's Olympic Day Run and the International Year of Sport and Physical Education 2005.

Olympic Day was held for the first time on 23 June 1948 with a total of 9 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) hosting ceremonies in their respective countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Great Britain, Greece, Portugal, Switzerland, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The first Olympic Day Run was held in 1987, over a distance of 10km, with 45 participating NOCs. While the tradition of holding the Run on the weekend before or after 23 June continues today, many NOCs are now using local trends to develop the event into a large country-wide celebration.

In their joint message, the two leaders say that well designed sport programmes can be catalysts for economic growth, and cost effective ways to improve health and education – for young people in particular.

"Sport also offers endless opportunities for innovative partnerships between international organizations, civil society groups, private sector businesses and others," they say.

Noting the shared fundamental ideals of the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee, the leaders stress that throughout the 2005 International Year of Physical Education, both organizations will work together to harness the great power of sport to change people's lives for the better.