Press Releases

                                                                                                                            13 August 2004

    Government Leaders, UN Officials to Meet in Athens on 14 August to Discuss Contribution of Sport in Peace-Building, Fight against HIV/AIDS

    NEW YORK, 12 August (United Nations Fund for International Partnerships) -- Heads of State and government and senior United Nations officials will be among those meeting in Athens on 14 August, during the Olympic Games, at a special round table discussion of the contribution that sport can make to addressing global problems.

    The discussion, titled “Harnessing the Power of Sport for Development and Peace”, will take place at the Megaron, Athens Concert Hall, on Saturday 14 August from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

    Co-sponsored by the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP) and the non-governmental organization Right To Play (formerly Olympic Aid), the round table aims to encourage governments to use sport as a policy tool for development and peace. Two panel discussions will highlight the humanitarian potential of sport focusing on:

    -- Sport as a powerful vehicle for teaching HIV/AIDS prevention, mitigating the impact of the disease and contributing to the elimination of stigma and discrimination; and

    -- Sport as a valuable and apolitical method for promoting peace, tolerance and understanding and for bridging social, cultural and demographic divides.

    A question-and-answer session for journalists will follow the event.

    The event is organized in cooperation with the United Nations Foundation and will be held under the auspices of the City of Athens and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture of the Hellenic Republic.

    The audience will be drawn from government representatives, international experts on sport for development, representatives of the United Nations and its agencies, development professionals, athletes, representatives of the world of sport and members of the Olympic Family. Some 400 guests are expected to attend the round table, each with a high level of interest in the humanitarian potential of sport.


    Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information will moderate the discussion, and United Nations speakers will include Adolf Ogi, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace; Eveline Herfkens, Executive Coordinator, United Nations Millennium Campaign; Carol Bellamy, Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); and Wendy Chamberlin, Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees.

    Other high-profile participants include Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik of Norway; His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange; Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan; Shimon Peres, former Prime Minister of Israel and Founder of Peres Centre for Peace; Thomas Bach, Vice-President of the International Olympic Committee; Dora Bakoyannis, Mayor of Athens; George Papandreou, Vice-Chairman of the International Olympic Truce Foundation; Viviane Reding, European Union Commissioner for Education and Culture; Ambassador Walter Fust, Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation; Dennis Bright, Minister of Youth and Sport of Sierra Leone; Okello Oryem, the Minister of State for Education and Sports of Uganda; Joel Libombo, Minister of Youth and Sports of Mozambique; Stephen Owen, Minister of State of Canada; and Johann Olav Koss, Olympic gold medallist and President and Chief Executive Officer of Right To Play.


    The Athens round table is a follow up to the first round table -- “Healthier, Safer, Stronger:  Using sport for development to build a brighter future for children worldwide” -- held at the Salt Lake City Olympic Games in February 2002. The Salt Lake City round table was a catalyst for the establishment of a United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force to examine the potential of sport to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Following the Task Force report, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 58/5 entitled “Sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace” and proclaimed 2005 the International Year of Sport and Physical Education (IYSPE 2005).


    The United Nations Fund for International Partnerships, assisted by the United Nations Department of Public Information and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), provides support for the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Adolf Ogi. The UNFIP’s role encompasses guidance on sport-related project partnerships and support to the International Year of Sport and Physical Education 2005. Together with Mr. Ogi’s office, UNFIP facilitates development of strategic partnerships by engaging the sports world with the United Nations and by fostering collaborations with the international sport community and sports-related organizations.  It encourages the use of sport as a means to reach the Millennium Development Goals, and spreads information about the value of sport and play as a tool for development, health and peace.

    Right To Play is a humanitarian non-governmental organization that uses sport and play programmes to encourage the healthy physical, social and emotional development of disadvantaged children.  It seeks to improve the lives of children and to strengthen their communities by translating the best values of sport into opportunities to promote development, health and peace.

    For more information on the round table, contact:  Camilla Schippa, Outreach Officer, UNFIP at e-mail: or tel.: 212-963-3441.

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