Lagos - “Today I’m in Sochi to witness countries uniting in a spirit of friendly competition and goodwill,” UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday while addressing the International Olympics Committee (IOC) session.
A statement by the IOC said it was the first time that a UN secretary-general will attend an IOC session ahead of the Winter Olympic Games.
It said Ban Ki-moon praised the joint efforts of the UN and the IOC in using sports as a tool for social change, describing the two organisations as teammates.
“That teams, the UN and IOC are not competing on the ski slopes or skating rinks.
“We are joining our forces together for our shared ideals; sustainability, universality, solidarity, non-discrimination and the fundamental equality of all people,” it quoted Ban Ki-moon as saying.
The statement said the UN secretary-general renewed his call for all warring parties worldwide to observe the Olympic Truce and lay down their weapons during the Games.
There have been growing concerns over the increase in terrorist attacks in Russia, with the Winter Games starting Feb. 7.
The statement said Banki Ki-moon appealed to aggrieved parties to lift their sights to the promise of peace and follow the example set by the Olympic Winter Games.
“The athletes here carry the flags of different nations but they are all joining under the banner of equality, fair play, understanding and mutual respect.
“Their histories, traditions and day-to-day lives offer a wonderful parade of human diversity. And the athletes send a unified message that people and nations can put aside their differences.
“If they can do that in Sochi’s sporting arenas, leaders of fighters should do the same in the world’s combat areas,” the statement said.
It said that IOC President, Thomas Bach called Ban Ki-moon “a great friend of sport and an inspiring world leader who stands for the same values the IOC is embracing”.
The statement added that Bach said that sports stood for respect and against any form of discrimination and that “Olympic principles are UN principles.”
According to the statement, Ban Ki-moon will also tour the Olympic Village, where he will sign the Olympic Truce Wall and later attend the Opening Ceremony of Sochi 2014. (NAN)