As the United Nations (UN) celebrates its 75th anniversary, the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, has hailed the collaboration between the two organisations, while also emphasising the role that sport can play in fostering global solidarity in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
Marking its historic anniversary, the UN launched a global consultation earlier this year to ask people about their hopes and fears for the future, and their priorities for international cooperation. Speaking on the occasion of a UN75 panel discussion to address the findings of this initiative, President Bach praised the work of the UN and highlighted its unique partnership with the IOC, which is built on common values and goals.
“As the UN is celebrating 75 years of existence, we are proud to have decades of existing collaboration with the UN system on a very wide range of issues. The global pandemic has only underlined how important this cooperation is on so many levels,” said the IOC President.
“Both our organisations are built on peace and solidarity and, as such, we are uniquely positioned to continue to work together in a partnership towards a better and more peaceful world. We are always stronger together. The post-corona world will need this solidarity and will need sport. And we are ready to contribute to making the world a better place through sport.”
More than one million people took part in the UN75 worldwide consultation, providing unique insights into the public’s priorities for recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. During this challenging time for the world, the surveys revealed a strong call for action on inequalities and climate change, plus greater global solidarity.
President Bach was among those who completed the survey and, addressing the findings, underlined the importance of solidarity and friendship among nations, which resonates well with the Olympic values and the Olympic Movement’s desire for peace and increased international cooperation.
With some countries around the world beginning their recovery efforts from the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Bach also highlighted the role that sport can play at this time, with 118 UN Member States having called for sport and physical activity to be included in national recovery plans, and the UN having previously recognised sport as an important enabler to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals.
“Sport is ready to contribute to building a more human-centred and inclusive society,” the IOC President said. “This crisis has made it clearer than ever that sport is the low-cost, high-impact tool par excellence for all countries in their recovery efforts.
“Sport and physical activity contribute directly to physical and mental health, and to combat both non-communicable and communicable diseases. Sport has great social significance by being the glue which bonds communities together. Sport plays a significant economic role; it creates jobs, generating business activity. In short, sport is contributing to the recovery from the crisis on the health, the social and the economic side.
The UN works for everyone, everywhere by:— United Nations (@UN) October 3, 2020
🇺🇳 preventing conflict
🇺🇳 vaccinating children
🇺🇳 protecting refugees
🇺🇳 feeding the hungry
🇺🇳 addressing the climate crisis
🇺🇳 empowering women
🇺🇳 responding to #COVID19 & so much more. https://t.co/IUYTNM5eVG #UN75 pic.twitter.com/S6xt01lxy2
“For all these reasons, we welcome and support the call of 118 UN Member States to include sport and physical activity in their recovery plans, and to integrate sport and physical activity into their national strategies for sustainable development.”
The partnership between the IOC and the UN dates back to 1922, when the IOC and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) established an institutional cooperation; and over the last 30 years, numerous partnerships and joint initiatives have been developed with a series of other UN agencies and programmes.
In 1993, the UN General Assembly approved a Resolution to revive the Olympic Truce, and in 2009 it granted the IOC Permanent Observer status. In 2014, the UN and the IOC signed an agreement aimed at strengthening collaboration between the two organisations at the highest level, with the UN also formally recognising the autonomy of the IOC and sport.
Since then, sport has been continually lauded by the UN for its power to spur social change, with the organisation playing 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 2017, after five years of successful collaboration on women and sport, the IOC and UN Women renewed their commitment through a second Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which set out a vision to empower women and girls through sport and increase women’s leadership and gender equality in the sports industry.
Earlier this year, and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IOC and the World Health Organisation (WHO) signed a new Cooperation Agreement to strengthen their efforts to promote healthy lifestyles, including physical activity, sport and active recreation, as a tool for health across the globe.
The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland is among the 100+ iconic buildings and monuments to be lit up in blue, the official UN colour, on the @UN 75th anniversary 🔵.#UNDay #UN75 #StrongerTogether@antonioguterres @olympicmuseum pic.twitter.com/2VQUSwe6WV— Olympics (@Olympics) October 24, 2020
On 24 October 2020, on the occasion of United Nations Day, President Bach sent his heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres. The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland was among 100+ iconic buildings and monuments around the world that were lit up in blue on the day to celebrate the UN's 75th anniversary.