Zambia, the Playing Field for Further UN-Olympic Cooperation

Geneva, Feb 27, 2012: UN Olympic Cooperation, The International community and the world of sport came together on Saturday, 25 February 2012, in Zambia as a high-level delegation led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge conducted a visit to Lusaka, Zambia, where they visited two community projects that successfully leverage the power of sport to bring about positive social change. The visit is the latest in a long series of joint activities between the UN and Olympic families, and another testimony of the strong cooperation between the two organizations.

The delegation kicked off the day by visiting a United Nations-supported initiative focusing on the rehabilitation of street children, out-of-school children and young people through sport. Hosted at the Fountain of Hope centre in the Kamwala area of Lusaka, the project is run by one of UNICEF’s implementing partners, the NGO Sport in Action, as part of the ‘International Inspiration’ programme, the official legacy programme of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“On behalf of the UN, I commend the Government of the Republic of Zambia, Fountain of Hope, the London 2012 International Inspiration programme, and all our partners for coming together to change children’s lives in such a positive way,” declared Secretary-General Ban at the centre. “But my biggest congratulations are for the children themselves,” he added.

Besides Mr. Ban and Mr. Rogge and their spouses, the delegation included Zambia’s Minister of Education John Phiri and Minister of Youth and Sport Chishimba Kambwili; Mr. Ban’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace Wilfried Lemke; UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia Ms. Kanni Wignaraja; IOC Vice President Thomas Bach; and several IOC Executive Board Members.

In the afternoon, the delegation visited the Olympic Youth Development Centre in the northern outskirts of Lusaka. The multi-purpose sports complex is the pilot project of the IOC’s ‘Sports for Hope’ programme and was established in May 2010 in collaboration with six international sport federations and the local government. The objective of the IOC and the Zambian government is that the centre offers athletes professional training opportunities and a wide range of educational programmes, health services and community activities. A similar centre is scheduled to open in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 2014.

“This is my second visit to the Olympic Youth Development Centre and I am honoured by the presence of the UN Secretary-General – proof of the strong and increasing cooperation between the IOC and the United Nations,” said President Rogge.

At the centre, the delegation also met with young people from the Chiawa Game Management Area, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project, where IOC President Rogge made a financial donation on behalf of the Olympic Movement. The contribution will be put toward renovating the community’s football pitch and dressing room, and providing basic sports equipment. The facilities will feature an information area designed to educate the community on pressing environmental issues in Zambia, such as forest management and biodiversity.

“These young people are the future. They must lead by example to show how communities can manage and protect their own natural resources while making a decent living. This contribution from the IOC demonstrates what a powerful motivator ‘sports for development’ can be, especially among the youth,” Ms Kanni Wignaraja, the UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia, said.

In the evening, at a dinner hosted by the IOC, UN Secretary-General Ban declared: “The IOC and the United Nations share similar values and goals. This is why we are such fitting partners and why I hope to build on our collaboration in years to come.” He added: “Dr. Rogge, during your term of office, we have broadened and deepened our relationship. We have taken great strides together in using sport to advance development,” referring to the IOC being granted observer status at the General Assembly in 2009.

Since their first encounter in January 2008, the two leaders have met on several occasions, including when the Secretary-General addressed the 13th Olympic Congress in Copenhagen in October 2009 and the 2nd International Forum on Sport, Peace and Development in May 2011 in Geneva.

Yesterday, UN Special Adviser Lemke seized the opportunity of his visit to Zambia to conduct additional visits to community sports projects. On Friday, he conducted several meetings and visits, and had the chance to meet with two of the participants who had taken part in the 2012 UNOSDP Youth Leadership Camp in Doha last month.

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