The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are to step up their collaboration and streamline their efforts to promote physical activity across the globe. Today, IOC President Jacques Rogge and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations in Lausanne. The document names physical inactivity as one of the most important risk factors for non-communicable diseases, and outlines the joint way forward for the five years to come.
Promote physical activity worldwide
“The IOC and the WHO are both eager to promote healthy lifestyles and grassroots sports activities worldwide, and today’s agreement is an important step to better form synergies between our various initiatives in this field,” said Jacques Rogge. He added: “It is about acting in concert to get everybody moving and thus reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases across all age groups.”
Sport as a key for healthy lifestyles
Whilst it is the IOC’s goal to enable access to sport for everybody, physical inactivity is a key risk factor for non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and obesity, which cause millions of deaths worldwide every year. As the leading authority for health within the United Nations system, the WHO is responsible for providing global strategies for health matters. After having signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the IOC today, Margaret Chan said: “This agreement with the International Olympic Committee will help increase our ability and reach in addressing the diseases which are the leading causes of death around the world. Tackling these diseases is one of the major challenges for sustainable development in the 21st century.”
Working group to implement MoU
An IOC-WHO working group will now pool the two networks and work on developing common advocacy and field projects for a five-year period to start with. One focus will be on joint action between WHO country offices and the 205 National Olympic Committees spread over all continents.
About IOC-UN cooperation
The IOC is working closely with a number of UN agencies, and was granted UN observer status in October 2009. This decision paid tribute to the IOC’s efforts to contribute to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals. By using sport as a tool, the IOC and its partners implement various activities worldwide in fields such as health promotion, humanitarian assistance, peace-building, education, gender equality, the environment and the fight against HIV/AIDS. Past initiatives with the WHO include the implementation of a tobacco-free policy at Olympic Games venues and health promotion campaigns targeting the local population of the Olympic host cities.