For information only - not an official document.
Press Release No: UNIS/SG/2642
Release Date: 1 September 2000
Olympic Games “A True Celebration of Humanity”, Secretary-General Says

NEW YORK, 31 August (UN Headquarters) – Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the Games of the XXVII Olympiad, which will be held in Sydney, Australia, from 15 September to 1 October:

 On behalf of the United Nations, I am delighted to convey my warmest greetings to the Games of the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney.

 The Olympic Games display the very best of our common humanity.  Coming together across virtually every line of race, ethnicity, language, religion, gender and national identity, the athletes -- on their own or as members of a team -- will scale new heights, set new records and give the world a lesson in international understanding.  The Games are a true celebration of humanity.

 Olympic ideals are also United Nations ideals:  tolerance, equality, fair play and, most of all, peace.  Together, the Olympics and the United Nations can be a winning team.  But the contest will not be won easily.  War, intolerance and deprivation continue to stalk the earth.  We must fight back.  Just as athletes strive for world records, so must we strive for world peace.

 That is why it is a matter of great significance that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has revived the ancient Greek tradition of the Olympic Truce, calling for all hostilities to cease during the Games.  I join the United Nations General Assembly in urging all those at war to observe the Olympic Truce.  This may sound unrealistic.  But as any athlete will tell you, nothing happens without a dream.

 Interest in the power of sport as a means of promoting a culture of peace is on the rise.  The IOC has convened a series of regional round tables on the subject, and the Association of National Olympic Committees discussed the subject earlier this year.  The establishment in Greece of the International Olympic Truce Centre under IOC auspices is also a welcome initiative.  Indeed, those dedicated to excellence in sport seem to be as thrilled at the prospect of working together to achieve peace through sport as they are by thoughts of victory in the sports arena.

 That is a spirit and a commitment that the United Nations heartily welcomes. 

I would like to congratulate the International Olympic Committee, the Government of Australia, the Sydney Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, National Olympic Committees and all others who have pooled their efforts for the Olympic Truce and for the Games.  Let us all now enjoy this inspiring spectacle, and let us sustain the momentum of peace and goodwill so admirably set in motion.

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