International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach underlines the unique and powerful role that sport and the Olympic Games can play in uniting the world in peace.
“Sport brings people together in peaceful competition,” he said in a video message. “Like few other things, sport has the power to foster peace and understanding with our fellow human beings.”
With around 70 armed conflicts, wars and crises around the world currently ongoing, amongst them the war in Ukraine, President Bach also emphasised the urgent need for the unifying power of sport as a force for good in society today.
“This is the contribution to peace that sport can offer: opening a pathway to foster understanding between people and nations,” he said. “Sport can open the door to peace in ways that exclusion and division do not.”
Speaking about the purpose of the Olympic Games since ancient times, President Bach noted that their aim has always been to promote peace through sport, highlighting how each edition of the Games brings together athletes from different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs.
“At the Olympic Games, the athletes set aside all the differences that divide the world,” he said. “They compete fiercely against each other, while living peacefully together under one roof in the Olympic Village. This makes the Olympic Games such a powerful symbol of peace.”
“Due to the fact that there are unfortunately far too many wars, armed conflicts and crises in this world, we have seen in almost all editions of the Games athletes compete with each other – as a symbol of peace – despite the fact that their nations are at war or in conflict,” he added.
But President Bach added that peace is about much more than setting aside differences, noting that it is about creating a better world and improving the lives of people so that everyone can thrive, which is where sport can make a positive impact.
“Sport is the low-cost, high-impact tool to support all countries – big or small, rich or poor – to build together a more peaceful, healthier, more equal and more sustainable world for everyone – 365 days a year,” he said.
Bach also highlighted the importance of the IOC and the entire Olympic Movement’s focus on strengthening sport’s enabling role in contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “Because this is what our mission is all about: putting sport at the service of the peaceful development of humankind,” he said.
Echoing his words at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, President Bach also called on everyone to join the IOC in its mission and embrace peace.
“On this Day of Sport for Development and Peace, please join us as we call on everyone around the world: Give peace a chance!” he said. The full IDSDP message from the IOC President can be found here.
Creating a historical link to the first modern Olympic Games, which began on 6 April 1896, the UN General Assembly declared in 2013 that 6 April would mark the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, which has now been celebrated each year since 2014. The IDSDP is an annual celebration of the power of sport to drive social change and community development, and to foster peace and understanding.