“Sport has become a world language, a common denominator that breaks down all the walls, all the barriers,” Mr. Ban < http://www.un.org/apps/sg/
>told the 2nd International Forum on Sport, Peace and Development in Geneva.
“It is a worldwide industry whose practices can have widespread impact. Most of all, it is a powerful tool for progress and for development,” he said, urging governments to integrate sport in development assistance programmes and in national development projects.
The Secretary-General said “mega” sporting events, such as the Olympics, the cricket and soccer World Cup or the football Super Bowl in the United States, can help spread information about major issues of global concern, including protecting the environment and putting into consideration the needs of people with disabilities.
“Let us make London the greenest games yet, as the United Kingdom has pledged to do. Let us make Sochi accessible to all people with disabilities, as the Russian Federation intends to do,” said Mr. Ban, referring to the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2014 Winter Olympics respectively.
He urged the sporting community to explore how it can support the transformations that are under way in North Africa and the Middle East, noting the that UN has used sport in many troubled societies – from the Balkans to Cyprus to Africa – to promote reconciliation and help children learn positive social values.
“We all know that children and youth are often those who suffer most from conflicts. Sports programmes can help give them a second chance – a chance to learn skills and regain confidence,” he added.
Mr. Ban cautioned that sport can also bring out the worst in human emotions and behaviour – intolerance, corruption and a mindset that seeks to win at any cost.
“I am counting on you to guard against such behaviours – and to join together so that sport can do its part to reach out to our shared goal of a healthier, more peaceful and more prosperous world,” he said.
He urged governments, the sporting world, and other partners to support the work of Wilfried Lemke, his Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, saying Mr. Lemke’s office can be can be a catalyst for deepening partnerships.