IOC President joins Olympians to give back to sport on International Day of Sport for Development and Peace
Today is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has joined a number of inspirational Olympians to celebrate the power of sport and illustrate how it is a universal tool for social change, development and peace.
From striking fencing gold at the Olympic Games Montreal 1976 to becoming President of the IOC, Thomas Bach has experienced first-hand how sport can inspire, educate and unite. The Olympic champion who now heads the Olympic Movement wanted to mark this day by giving back to sport at grassroots level.
President Bach took time out of his demanding schedule to visit a fencing club in Rio de Janeiro during a recent trip to the host city of the 2016 Olympic Games. He joined young fencers from a fencing project for underprivileged children for a training session at Rio’s municipal club. Sharing his time and experience, the accomplished Olympian underlined the universality of sport.
“They are gaining self-confidence”, he said. “They know that they have to respect others; that they have to respect the rules. They learn that in sport and in life you can lose and you can win and that a defeat is not the end of everything, and that a victory does not make you superior to others. We are all equal and we all respect the same rules and laws.”
With the training hall abuzz with youngsters practising their en garde and lunge positions, the delight and enthusiasm of these young athletes participating in a unique master class with the Olympic champion was evident.
The President of the Fencing Federation of Rio de Janeiro, Arno Schneider, said: “It’s practically a dream -- mainly for the children -- seeing such an important person. We can see in his personality an inspiration to keep living, to keep growing, and that’s what is important for those of us who work with sport, for the athletes of the moment and for future athletes.”
He added: “We manage to bring children from all levels together so that they both develop themselves and develop a great tolerance. Through sport, I think we plant that idea in the children’s minds, and that helps them grow as they go through life.”
Young fencer Amanda Bueno Netto Simeão Rodrigues said: “The sport has literally changed my life. I’ve got to know and value cultures that I’d never imagined, and now I have a dream that I didn’t have before, which is to take part in the Olympic Games and represent my country.
In the lead-up to the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, Olympians have been helping us illustrate how sport is a powerful tool that can contribute to a better world.
Canadian swimmer Mark Tewksbury highlighted how sport is a “great conversation opener and human experience opener” that can tackle discrimination and social stigma. Brazilian judoka Flávio Canto demonstrated how sport can be used to promote human development, social inclusion and healthy lifestyles. Egyptian modern pentathlete Aya Medany emphasised sport’s ability to empower women and girls. Finally, IOC Executive Board members Sergey Bubka, Anita DeFrantz and Nawal El Moutawakel reinforced the necessity to give back to sport at grassroots level.
Join the movement at #sport4betterworld !
6 April was designated the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace by the United Nations in 2014. It is an annual celebration that highlights the value of sport as an instrument for social change, development and peace worldwide.
Learn more about the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace at: www.olympic.org/idsdp