POSTED: October 21st 2009

Political step forward for sport as UN grants observer status to IOC

United Nations headquarters in New York / lake images
United Nations headquarters in New York / lake images

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT / Sports Features Communications

NEW YORK: Worldwide sport took a significant step forward in terms of international status and respect when International Olympic Committee was formally granted observer status by the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.

The move - which means the IOC has a right of address to the UN in certain cirumstances - is a delicate one since sports leaders have generally tried to remain at arm’s length from the political decision-making process.

At least this latest initiative has begun positively with the UN adopting a resolution to observe the Olympic Truce at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Another resolution welcomed next year’s first staging of football’s World Cup in Africa, in South Africa.

The Olympic Truce resolution titled: “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal," calls on nations to refrain from armed conflict and to jointly use sports as a tool for peace.

The Truce was part of the ancient Olympics. It called on the nations to lay down their arms for the duration of the Games. It was reintroduced in 1993 and the latest edition refers to the Vancouver Olympics and Paralympics as well as the inaugural Youth Olympics later next year in Singapore.

'Widespread support'

IOC president Jacques Rogge, recently re-elected to leadership of the Olympic movement, said: “The widespread support for this resolution speaks not only for its symbolic value, but also for its practical potential. Today the IOC and its member organizations undertake various initiatives . . . to promote and strengthen a culture of peace based on the spirit of the Olympic Truce - often in collaboration with UN agencies and other partners."

Looking at the UN observer status, the IOC said in a statement that it looked forward to promoting sport “at a new level."

Rogge added: “This is a huge recognition of the role sport can play in contributing to a better and more peaceful world. Olympic values clearly match the UN's philosophy. This decision further strengthens the partnership between the IOC and the UN system."

In the resolution related to the football World Cup, the UN noted that sports play an important role in promoting peace, solidarity and socio-economic development.

The latter is the theme on which FIFA president Sepp Blatter concentrates much of his attention. Blatter, elected in 1998, is expected – health permitting - to seek a fourth four-year mandate at FIFA’s 2011 Congress.

Keywords · United Nations · International Olympic Committee · UN · IOC · General Assembly · Rogge · Blatter · 2010 World Cup · South Africa · Blatter

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