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Press release issued by the UN Department of Public Information

UN looks to sports to advance Millennium Development Goals

NEW YORK, 17 September 2003 - The world would be a healthier and less dangerous place if nations invested more seriously in their citizens’ right to participate in sports, according to a report launched today by 10 United Nations agencies.

“The aim of the United Nations activities involving sport is not the creation of new sporting champions and the development of sport but rather the use of sport in broader development and peace-building activities,” states the report, published at the request of Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Launched at UN Headquarters in New York, the report says team sports embrace core values such as cooperation, social interaction, fair play, sharing and respect. Participation in sports and other physical activity also has public health benefits.

Initiatives incorporating sports are used to promote drug-free lifestyles, control aggression and build volunteer support for multiple causes. Thousands of street children and orphans also learn life skills while sharing in basketball, dance and other activities.

The report, entitled Sports as a Tool for Development and Peace: Towards Achieving the Millennium Development Goals, states that the UN has only scratched the surface of possibilities for integrating physical activity, recreation and sports activities into development programming.

The agencies agree that much more should be done to build interest shown by the world of sports in UN issues. “The time is ripe to develop a coherent and systematic strategy for increasing the use of sport within the United Nations. A common framework needs to be established that draws together sport-related initiatives and actors across the different sectors,” notes the report.

Among its recommendations, the report urges countries to incorporate sport and physical activity into their development policies and to provide resources for initiatives that maximize participation and access to sport for all.

The Executive Director of UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, and the Special Adviser to Mr. Annan on Sport for Development and Peace, Adolf Ogi, co-chaired the Task Force that wrote the report.

“The report makes a very strong advocacy for the idea that sport is a practical and a cost-effective vehicle to assist the United Nations system in proceeding forward to reach the Millennium Development goals,” Ms. Bellamy told a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York.

“The message is that we’re shifting the idea of sport, not as a luxury, but as an extraordinary tool that can be used to achieve development and peaceful goals,” she added.

Mr. Ogi underscored the idea that the report is about “cooperation, teamwork, discipline,” and stressing the critical role of sports in the education of children. “Through sport you can create a better world,” he said.

For further information please contact:

Allison Hickling, UNICEF Media, New York
(+1-212) 326-7224, ahickling@unicef.org





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