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Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations arrow Newsarrow Celebration of International Day of Sport for Peace and Development-Statement by Ambassador M. Spinellis

Celebration of International Day of Sport for Peace and Development-Statement by Ambassador M. Spinellis

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Excellencies

Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President

Distinguished guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

At the outset, I would like to express my appreciation to the Permanent Missions of Monaco and Tunisia for taking the initiative to convene this important event. I would also like to welcome the distinguished panellists and thank them for sharing their thought-provoking perspectives with us today. Greece highly commends the valuable work currently being done through the use of sport to achieve positive societal and individual change around the world.

This year we celebrate the first-ever International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. This Day, commemorated on the 6th creates a historical link to the revival of the modern Olympic Games in Athens, on the 6th April 1896. Since the times of Ancient Olympics in Greece, sport has been used as an influential means for peace, understanding and social harmony. Ancient Greeks considered sport to be the core element of their identity, an integral part of education, and critical to establishing the harmonious balance between one's physical and mental well-being.

According to Pierre de Coubertin, who revived the Olympic Games in 1894, sport plays an integral role in creating a 'new world' that is purer, more transparent and calmer. The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace is a reminder of the timeless importance of sport in overcoming cultural, religious and linguistic barriers, as well as serving as an innovative and effective tool for advancing human rights, promoting empowerment and social change, as well as facilitating the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Not only can sport foster social stability, reconciliation, and dialogue between communities; it has the ability to initiate change by empowering, inspiring and motivating individuals to enhance their capacities and effectively address pertinent issues that affect vulnerable groups of society. Sport is an indispensable factor of health and well-being and we support the use of sports as a medium for post-conflict relief work, conflict prevention and peace building.

We would like to express our support for the various efforts made by the United Nations System and all relevant international organizations and stakeholders by observing and raising awareness of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. This day provides a platform to initiate change and to ensure that everyone, from all parts of the world, has the opportunity to participate in sport and enjoy its benefits. We would also like to take this opportunity to denounce all forms of discrimination in sport and advocate for the rights of all people to participate, without discrimination of any kind. We celebrate the power of sport, as a universal language, to transcend barriers and unite people regardless of their gender, race, religion, political parties, class, sexual orientation, culture, status and age.

Let us honor the sacred Greek tradition of Ekecheiria, the ancient Olympic Truce which prohibited conflicts amongst City States during the Olympic Games, and strive to attain this sacred tradition everyday in order to create a better and more peaceful world. In the words of Mr Wilfried Lemke, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, "sport is not about winning at all costs,' sport is about being a role model in your community and country. Sport is as much about tolerance, respect and cooperation as it is about competition and medals. Sport should remain fun and healthy for those who participate. Sport should bring them joy and well-being. "

It is our hope to make this a reality in the near future for all people.

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