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As part of his ongoing visit to Africa, IOC President Jacques Rogge today participated in the launch of a new Youth Sport Centre in Gatumba, Burundi, which is jointly funded by the IOC, UNDP (the United Nations Development Programme) and the government of Burundi. The multi-sport complex is located in the border region with the Democratic Republic of Congo, an area known for tension and violence and sorely lacking in recreational infrastructure.
The centre, which will organise sporting and educational activities for the more than 7,000 young people from both sides of the border, features a football ground, an athletics track, an indoor hall for badminton, table tennis and judo, one court suitable for basketball, volleyball and handball, as well as changing rooms and office space. The facility will be managed by the National Olympic Committee of Burundi.
Lydia Nsekera, IOC member from Burundi and President of the National Football Federation said on the occasion of the inauguration ceremony: “This project is a wonderful example of how sport can help build bridges and bring people from warring communities together. Especially for the young people in this area, the centre will provide a space of joy, hope and meaningful occupation.”
The IOC financially supported the construction of the sports facilities and provided sports equipment, while its partners contributed resources in other areas. The IOC has long-standing relationships with various UN bodies, however this is the first time IOC and the UN have jointly set up a sports facility. Together and with other partners, both organisations use sport as a tool to implement various activities across the globe in fields such as humanitarian assistance, peace-building, education, gender equality, the environment and the fight against HIV/AIDS, hence contributing to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals - goals that have been identified by the UN as some of the world’s most pressing issues and require the support of everyone.