IOC, UN and World Leaders Join Forces Against Deadly Diseases
Speaking to a special session of the UN General Assembly, IOC President Jacques Rogge urged world leaders to expand the role of sport organisations in the fight against noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
The high-level meeting at the UN headquarters in New York (USA) brought together heads of state and governments; delegates from UN Member States; representatives from civil society; and heads of UN agencies to address a health risk that ranks as the leading cause of death worldwide. At least 63 per cent of all deaths are linked to heart attacks, strokes, cancers and other NCDs.
“The impact of NCDs goes well beyond the lives lost and the daily suffering of millions of people. These preventable diseases are a major obstacle to economic growth and social development in countries around the world,” President Rogge said in reaffirming the IOC’s commitment to combating NCDs by promoting physical activity and healthy lifestyles.
The World Health Organisation has recognised physical activity as one of three pillars for the effective prevention of NCDs, alongside good nutrition and avoiding tobacco.
President Rogge outlined the many ways the Olympic Movement promotes healthy lifestyles. The IOC’s Sport for All Commission is at the forefront of efforts to encourage physical activity at all levels. One of the Commission’s initiatives - the annual Olympic Day celebration on 23 June - has proven to be an effective way to get young people more active in countries around the world.
To help put sport to work against NCDs, the IOC President urged meeting participants to:
• Advocate for more safe and accessible public spaces for physical activity and sport.
• Build new partnerships with sectors beyond sport — transport, finance, urban planning, industry and others — to expand the impact of sport in urban areas.
• Work with government authorities and educators to increase the amount of time that students devote to physical education.
• Encourage the development of sports infrastructures and sports organisations.
It was President Rogge’s first appearance before the General Assembly since the IOC gained official UN Observer status in late 2009.
“Many Member States and United Nations agencies or programmes understand the value of sport in promoting development, sustainability, health and the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals. Encouraging others to integrate sport into those efforts will bring us closer to making our goals a reality,” he said.
President Rogge’s visit to New York came on the eve of the 14th World Conference on Sport for All in Beijing (China), a high-level summit to promote best practices and share new ways to encourage physical activity, especially among young people.