IOC and UN Secretariat agree historic deal to work together to use sport to build a
President Bach again calls for those involved in conflict to ‘have a direct personal
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and United Nations
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon signed a historic agreement today at the UN
Headquarters in New York aimed at strengthening collaboration between the two
organisations at the highest level.
The agreement underlined that the IOC and the UN “share the same values of contributing
to a better and peaceful world through sport.”
The IOC, which was granted UN Observer Status in 2009, has long enjoyed strong ties
with individual UN agencies, working with them globally on a number of initiatives that use
sport as a tool for development and peace. Today’s agreement means the IOC will now
work with the UN Secretariat on a range of projects around the world.
Sport can change the world, but it cannot change the world alone.
Speaking at the announcement, IOC President Thomas Bach said, “Sport can change the
world, but it cannot change the world alone. When placing sport at the service of
humankind, we need and we want partnerships with other players in society. The Olympic
Movement is willing and ready to make its contribution to the most laudable efforts of the
United Nations to maintain and build peace and to bring along social change.”
Read President Bach’s full speech here.
The agreement, which was signed in the presence of the President of the General
Assembly, recognises the goal of the IOC and the Olympic Movement to contribute to
building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport without
discrimination of any kind. It also calls for respect of the autonomous organisation of sport.
The two organisations call for sporting initiatives to promote social integration and
economic development, including:
a) Access to sport for all among communities, in particular the most disadvantaged
and marginalised populations
b) Quality physical education in school settings
c) Youth empowerment, education and skills development
d) Girls’ and women’s empowerment
e) Peace-building and community dialogue
f) Healthy life-styles promotion
g) Environmental sustainability
Within this framework, the IOC, together with National Olympic Committees, International
Sports Federations, Organising Committees and individual athletes, will work together with
UN member states, UN Special Envoys, Special Advisors and Goodwill Ambassadors, UN
Specialised Agencies and UN Funds.
“The first-ever Memorandum of Understanding between our organisations is a logical step
after years of ever closer collaboration in using sport to promote development and peace,”
said Secretary-General Ban. “Sport has great power to bring people together, improve
public health and promote teamwork and mutual respect.”
On the occasion of the signing it was also announced that IOC Honorary President Rogge
was appointed as the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Youth Refugees and
Sport. The overall objective of the role will be to support the United Nations Secretary-
General in advancing peace, development and an inclusive society through sport. On
substantive issues, the Special Envoy will work closely with the UN High Commissioner for
In his speech the IOC President reiterated his plea from the opening and closing
ceremonies for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi when he called on political leaders of
the world to “respect the Olympic message of goodwill, of tolerance, of excellence and of
peace.” He once again urged all those implicated in confrontation to act on the Olympic
message of dialogue and peace.
“Please have the courage to have a direct personal dialogue at the highest level in the
spirit of mutual respect, good will and peace,” he said.
Accompanying President Bach were IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge, IOC
member in Norway and Olympic champion Ole Einar Bjørndalen, United States Olympic
Committee Secretary General Scott Blackmun and US Olympic marathon runner Meb
The delegation took part in a meeting convened by the United Nations Secretary-General
on Sport for Development and Peace at the United Nations Headquarters, marking the
International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, the first edition of which took place
on 6 April.
Keflezighi, a silver medallist at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and most recently the
winner of the Boston Marathon on 21 April, spoke of how sport changed his life after he
was first exposed to organised sport after moving to the United States from Eritrea at the
age of 10.
“Sport is its own school of life, and some say I have earned a PhD. Sport taught me self-
discipline, commitment and perseverance. It taught me that success is achieved in small
steps, through hard work and lessons learned from your mistakes,” Keflezighi said. “In
addition to these life skills, sport gave me something else that was extremely important to a
refugee from a war-torn country. Sport gave me hope. I want to commend the IOC and the
UN for using sport to bring hope to refugee camps and peace to regions plagued by
violence. I know that these efforts are making a difference.”