For the first time in its history, the United Nations has recognised the autonomy of the International Olympic Committee and sport. This is a very important milestone for the IOC.
The recognition came at the UN General Assembly in New York. Member States adopted a resolution that not only recognises, but even “supports the independence and autonomy of sport as well as the mission of the IOC in leading the Olympic Movement”.
This adoption is the culmination of dialogue and engagement following IOC President Thomas Bach’s address to the UN General Assembly in November 2013, where he emphasised the need for the autonomy of sport, saying: “Sport is truly the only area of human existence which has achieved universal law. But to apply this universal law worldwide, sport has to enjoy responsible autonomy. Politics must respect this sporting autonomy.”
This resolution sends a very powerful message. It gives NOCs United Nations support in their relationship with their national governments to maintain and strengthen the autonomy of their NOCs.
The resolution acknowledges sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace, and highlights the important role of the IOC and the Olympic Movement in achieving these goals.
Significantly, it recognises “that major international sport events should be organised in the spirit of peace, mutual understanding, friendship, tolerance and inadmissibility of discrimination of any kind and that the unifying and conciliatory nature of such events should be respected.” This clearly implies that full participation at sporting events is encouraged, and that in turn boycotts are incompatible with this UN request for respect of the values of sport.
This historic milestone is another indication of the IOC’s strong relationship with the UN and the increasing importance it places in it and the power of sport to make a positive difference in the world.
The IOC applauds this historical resolution and the positive support from the UN and its Member States that will enable it to continue to place sport at the service of humanity.