IOC President passes Olympic flame to UN Secretary-General
With the lighting of the Olympic cauldron just hours away, the final day of the Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay saw a symbolic passing of the Olympic flame between two leaders of international organisations that work for the benefit of mankind and share the common objective of promoting peace.
It was in world-famous Ipanema that International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach passed the Olympic flame to the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as the Relay made its way towards the Maracanã and the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
Passing the flame to President Bach was Rio 2016 Organising Committee President, Brazilian Olympic Committee President and fellow Olympian Carlos Arthur Nuzman. The torchbearers on either side of this illustrious trio made this moment even more poignant, as both of them had special stories to tell about how their lives had been benefited by the work of the organisations represented by the three leaders.
Twenty-year-old Raissa Souza de Lima passed the Olympic flame to Carlos Arthur Nuzman. Raissa is a beneficiary of Fight for Peace (FFP), an NGO that works in the Complexo da Maré in Rio de Janeiro and is supported by the IOC and the Brazilian Olympic Committee. Fight for Peace combines boxing and martial arts with education and personal development to realise the potential of young people in communities affected by crime, violence and social exclusion.
Growing up with a difficult home life, Fight for Peace helped Raissa to control her emotions and anger, as she started to learn judo. She now helps as an assistant at Fight for Peace teaching children judo. Speaking before the event, she said: “Without Fight for Peace, something terrible could have happened. The Olympics in Rio will be an event that surely will mark Brazil for a long time, as well as the life of Brazilians who will compete. And as I am a judo athlete with a dream of competing in the Olympics, I feel very happy with the opportunity to represent my sport and the youth of the Complexo da Maré by carrying the Olympic torch. It is a very important and symbolic part of the event.”
On receiving the flame from IOC President Bach, Ban Ki-moon continued down Ipanema to the point where 15-year-old Thaísa was waiting for him. Thaísa is passionate about handball, and, thanks to her talent and effort, has been able to get a scholarship to a high-quality private school. As well as excelling on the field of play, she is also an excellent student. Thaísa is a beneficiary of the UN Women programme, an initiative of the United Nations, which is supported in Rio de Janeiro State by the IOC, thanks to a USD 600,000 contribution.
The project targets 2,500 girls aged 12-to-14 in a programme entitled “One Win Leads to Another”. It uses a series of sports programmes to build young women’s leadership skills and improve their ability to influence decisions that impact their lives at all levels.
The passing of the flame from the IOC President to the UN Secretary-General was a visible confirmation of the close cooperation that the two organisations enjoy. The UN has long recognised the contribution of sport for development and peace, and collaboration between the IOC and the UN has played a central role in spreading the acceptance of sport as a means to promote internationally agreed development goals. In 2015, in a historic moment for sport and the Olympic Movement, sport was officially recognised as an “important enabler” of sustainable development and included in the UN’s Agenda 2030.
In line with Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC’s strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement unanimously adopted in December 2014, the IOC believes in the potential of sport to help achieve four of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by this UN Agenda 2030: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages (SDG 3); Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls (SDG 5); Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (SDG 11); and Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development (SDG 16).
Speaking at the UN last year, President Bach said: “Both the United Nations and the IOC are built on the shared values of tolerance, solidarity and peace. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, described this in the best way: ‘Olympic Principles are United Nations Principles’.” President Bach continued: “The mission of the IOC is to put sport at the service of humanity. We are aware that we can only reach this goal in partnership with others. This is why today we are reaffirming our strong commitment to the United Nations and its Member States to work in partnership towards making our shared goals a reality.”
The Olympic flame and its message of peace will illuminate the Maracanã later tonight, as the Olympians of 2016 and fans around the world celebrate together in harmony the opening of the Olympic Games Rio 2016.