The International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week pledged to work together with the Red Cross and the Red Crescent National Societies in promoting a culture of non-violence and peace through sport.
The pledge was made on 28 November in the framework of the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, held in Geneva, Switzerland. On this occasion, a special side event was held on the theme of “Youth as drivers of a culture of nonviolence and peace: the power of sports, arts and creativity.”
IOC Executive Board member and President of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Rene Fasel represented the IOC at the Conference and gave a presentation on the importance of sport in education and youth development. He outlined the values that form the foundation of the Olympic Movement, youth and sport initiatives and ways sport can foster non-violence and peace.
Sport for change
“For the Olympic Movement in general, and for the IOC in particular, sport is more than competition,” Fasel said. “Sport unites the principles that the Olympic Movement holds dear: education, sustainability, non-discrimination, universality, humanism and solidarity. These are the principles that drive far-reaching social change.”
The IOC began working in earnest with the Red Cross movement in May 2003 when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the parties aimed at promoting international solidarity and human and sustainable development. The IOC supports the Red Cross and Red Crescent in their efforts to use sport and the arts to disseminate humanitarian values and encourage young people to live healthy, productive lives and volunteer in their communities.
The pledge called for, among others:
- Promoting physical education, healthy lifestyles and avenues for voluntary service as part of the formal school curriculum, in particular at the primary and secondary levels
- Promoting access for children and youth to community-based activities such as sports, arts, music and theatre, which foster dialogue, mutual understanding and non-violence
- Supporting and promoting initiatives empowering youth to take up leadership roles in the promotion of a culture of non-violence and peace, such as the Olympic Truce, the IFRC YABC Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change and other youth-led initiatives
A youthful focus
The IOC encourages the use of sport as a tool for human development, in particular among young people. One recent initiative was the founding of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), the second edition of which will take place in Innsbruck from 13 to 22 January 2012. In addition to elite sports competition, the athletes, aged 15 to 18, take part in a Culture and Education Programme aimed at raising awareness of the Olympic values, different cultures and topics ranging from sustainability and first aid, to training regimens. It is hoped the athletes will return to their communities after the Games and act as ambassadors in the promotion of healthy, active lifestyles and the values of excellence, friendship and respect.