The United Nations Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace and the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have pledged to ensure that this summer’s Games in Beijing, China, are celebrated in a spirit of friendship and respect.
During their meeting at the Committee’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, Wilfried Lemke and IOC President Jacques Rogge agreed to continue collaboration in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games 2008 and beyond.
Mr. Lemke voiced his concern about the “challenging international backdrop which the Olympic Games have been drawn into in recent weeks,” according to a news release issued following yesterday’s meeting.
“I hope that the Beijing 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games will leave a lasting legacy in China and beyond,” he stated, adding that “the spirit of the Olympic Games requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship and solidarity.”
Dr. Rogge noted that “by choosing to award the Games to China in July 2001, one fifth of humanity would be hosting the world’s biggest sporting event.”
He added that the Games are an opportunity to remember and encourage the changes that China has made over a short period, including initiatives and laws directly related to its hosting of the Games, such as new media laws, and environmental, education and sports programmes.
The talks also focused on the long-standing partnership between the IOC and the UN, which was highlighted during Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to the Committee’s headquarters earlier this year. The two organizations agreed to boost their cooperation in areas such peacebuilding, the fight against doping and environmental protection, as well as explore new areas of joint activities such as the Youth Olympic Games.
The Special Adviser also met with Jordi Serra, Executive Director of the International Table Tennis Federation based in Renens, Switzerland. Several activities are being planned to harness the sport – which will be featured at the Beijing Games – as a vehicle to bring people together and promote world peace.
Appointed last month by Mr. Ban, Mr. Lemke succeeds former Swiss President Adolf Ogi in the efforts to strengthen the relationship between the UN and the world of sport.