Secretary-General Kofi Annan is calling for further initiatives that use sport to promote development and peace, to build on the momentum he says was generated by the United Nations Year of Sport in 2005.
"It is imperative that the programme and institutional and advocacy initiatives that advance sport for development and peace during the International Year of Sport and Physical Education lead to sustained long-term effects within the United Nations and among Government, private sector and civil society partners," he says in a new report to the General Assembly, which established the international year.
In the report, Mr. Annan affirms that athletics are an excellent vehicle for promoting education, health, development and peace as part of the overall effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the set of eight time-bound targets for reducing extreme poverty and hunger and other ills by 2015.
Sports can help achieve the MDGs by drawing young people away from risky behaviour into activities that teach skills and values essential to life, Adolf Ogi, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, has explained during the International Year.
Mr. Ogi said that it often builds better relations between communities as well, as the cricket series between Pakistan and India did last year.
During the year, focal points for activities that incorporated those themes were designated in countries around the globe, Mr. Annan's report says. In addition, the use of sport as a means to promote intercultural, post-conflict and peacebuilding dialogues was highlighted at many international conferences and events.
Sports were also incorporated into the response to the December tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and United Nations agencies have developed activities ranging from fund-raising football games between athletes and singers in Italy to awareness-raising events connected to the XXVIII Olympics, the report says.