Mr. Adolf Ogi, is Special Adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on Sport for Development and Peace, Under-Secretary-General, Former President of Switzerland

Opening statement by Mr. Adolf Ogi

December 2003 -

At the Round Table Debate International Expert Meeting on Sport and Development in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on November 14 th 2003

I wish to express my gratitude to the organisers of this expert meeting for giving me the honour to open the Round Table Debate on Sport for Development and Peace.

Allow me to begin by looking at what "next steps" were taken since the first conference on sport and development in Magglingen in February 2003.


On the 3 rd of November 2003, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the resolution "Sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace" presented by Tunisia. The resolution presented by Greece and calling for the "Olympic Truce" to be respected during the next Olympic Games in Athens was also adopted.

The UN General Assembly resolution on "Sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace is an essential political statement by governments which we must now make good use of.

The speed at which this resolution has gone from project to adoption is a sign of how timely our efforts are. In less than 10 months, the resolution turned from draft to final and adopted text.

In this resolution, the governments have declared they agree sport has a role to play in human development.

As you know, the year 2004 will be the "European year of Education through Sport". The General Assembly resolution will allow for a worldwide follow-up by calling for 2005 to be the "International Year of Sport and Physical Education".

The UN General Assembly resolution gives us an additional tool to commit governments to putting sport onto their development agenda. The resolution calls for:

  • The promotion of physical education in schools. Physical education at school is often the first contact children have with sports.

The protection of young athletes against exploitation and early separation from their families.

  • The development of partnership initiatives between governments, sports federations and clubs, NGOs as well as the private sector.
  • The elaboration of an anti-doping convention under the leadership of UNESCO.
  • And finally that the year 2005 become the "International Year of Sport and Physical Education".

I expect that in 2004, governments will make plans and create partnerships to show in 2005 how sport can help with the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. In 2005, we need to see the implementation of projects that put sport in relation with :

  • Peace
  • Development
  • Health
  • Education
  • Sustainable management of the environment
  • International solidarity

Another tool we have developed this year and which will help the United Nations prepare for such projects is the report of the United Nations Inter-agency Task Force on Sport for Development and Peace.

With this report we have strengthened our position inside the United Nations. The report clearly states that sport is an efficient and cost-effective tool to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals in every country throughout the world.

The report of the Task Force on Sport for Development and Peace was printed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and made public on 17 September 2003 in New York.

The report makes 6 recommendations:

  • That Governments include sport into their development policies
  • That the United Nations system and Governments include sport into their
    programmes towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals
  • That the United Nations system include sport where appropriate
  • That partnerships be developed between the United Nations system and the IOC, sports federations, clubs and athletes, NGOs and the private sector
  • That Governments make resources available for "sport for all" within their countries and abroad
  • That the media and the United Nations work more closely together to promote the role of sport for development and peace

The report has received a warm welcome and will now serve the elaboration and implementation of sport for development projects within the United Nations system programmes together with their traditional and new partners.

Indeed, I believe that already long before the Magglingen conference on Sport and Development in February 2003, we agree that the only way to achieve the Millennium Development Goals is to build strategic partnerships.

The UN General Assembly resolution is the latest sign showing us that Governments are ready to explore this new field and that it is now up to us to come up with innovative ways to join forces and achieve the common goals of sustainable development and growth.

Here are some examples of how sport can help bring difficult social issues onto the political scene:

Homeless Street Soccer World Cup

In July took place the first "Homeless Streetsoccer World Cup" in Graz, Austria.

The World Cup was organised by the association of streetpapers sold by the homeless together with Caritas and the town of Graz. The games took place in the middle of the town and allowed the homeless to be seen not as homeless people but as sportspeople able to play in a team, respect their opponents, make strategic decisions and simply to have fun. This fantastic initiative also brought the usually hidden issue of homelessness into the middle of society.

Special Olympics

In June 2003 the first summer Special Olympics to took place outside the United States of America were organised in Ireland. I witnessed in Dublin the importance of sport to help integrate the mentally disabled. The Irish people made the warmest welcome for the special athletes and friendships were made for life. The Special Olympics, showed once again that with the help of all concerned the mentally handicapped can fulfil their dreams through sports.

The next Special Olympics will take place in Nagano, Japan in the winter of 2005 and in Shanghai, China in the summer of 2007.

Mathare Youth Sports Association

In Nairobi, the Mathare Youth Sports Association has continued to work with young people living in the Mathare slum. Their sport-related projects educate young slum dwellers about HIV/aids, respect for hygiene and for the environment through fun and sports. This year, the Mathare Youth Sports Association was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The final step I wish to inform you about is my recent trip to China.

I have just returned from Beijing where I have met the organisers of the 2008 Olympic Games. Preparations are already well underway and I am convinced that we will see the best Olympic Games ever in Beijing.

I have asked the organisers and the Chinese government if they would like to work with the United Nations and implement projects before and during the Beijing Olympic Games. I can tell you their response was very positive. We will now explore ways, first in 2005 during the International Year of Sports and then for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing ways to promote the subjects discussed before:

  • To bring peace to troubled areas
  • Local development
  • Health
  • Education
  • Sustainable management of the environment
  • International solidarity with developing countries

I have also met the representatives of the United Nations system in Beijing and they have assured me they are ready to work in a coherent way and ready to approach the organisers of the Olympic Games together with a common project.


But before Beijing we have Athens !

Several UN agencies are already preparing programmes and projects for the next summer Olympic Games.

I am therefore convinced that we can achieve a fantastic result by joining forces :

- in 2004 during the Athens Olympic Games

- in 2005 during the International Year of Sport and

- in 2008 during the Beijing Olympic Games.

As you can see, our new field of "Sport for Development and Peace" is a very dynamic one. Everything I see is moving fast and in the right direction.

I am convinced that we will manage to promote the positive sides of sport, the best school for life skills !

We will not let doping, violence and money undermine our essential work. More and more people are receiving our message and are ready to support us.

From what I have seen, sport is the best way to assist the young people in need in a way that is fun and participative. I also believe that sport is a good way to mobilize goodwill and resources around the world.

Let us ensure we do our best and build lasting partnerships that produce sustainable results.

Thank you for your attention.