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UK Mission to the United Nations

New York

London 17:41, 02 Jan 2013
New York 12:41, 02 Jan 2013

London 2012 Olympic Torch Display at UN Headquarters

18 December 2012

UK Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant joins UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to open display
UN Photo/John Isaac

Thank you Peter and thank you Secretary-General and thank you Sarah Hughes for being here today. I also want to thank the UN Office of Sport for Development and Peace for bringing us together today, and to Mr Wilfried Lemke and his team for their steadfast support. The Secretary-General’s presence at the London 2012 Olympic Games made a big impact. The dedication that he showed in being there not only carrying the torch for one of the final, crucial legs of the relay in London but also carrying the Olympic flag and being brave enough to wear a white suit in front of millions of followers in the Olympic Stadium.

Sport has the power to bring people together and remind us all of our common humanity. We see this each time we gather for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and London was honoured to host this year’s games. We are very proud, as the Secretary-General said, that both the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games set many new records: sporting records, records for crowds, for TV audiences, and for unbridled spirit.

But the United Kingdom is not alone in recognising the power of sport in peace and development. All 193 UN Member States acknowledged, as the Secretary-General said, acknowledged this power by co-sponsoring the 2011 UN General Assembly Resolution on the Olympic Truce.  And this Truce dates back to the 8th Century BC in Greece, originally to enable spectators and participants to put down their weapons for a short period and come together and either participate in or watch the Olympic Games. The modern version of the Olympics represents the great international yearning for peace, development and education, and it brings a diverse range of people, from different parts of society together. It calls on Member States to promote those ideals at all levels in their societies and internationally.

Now, the United Kingdom sought to mobilise the ideals of the Olympic Games and the UN Olympic Truce Resolution around the world to show that this Resolution can promote conflict prevention and peace.  Working in partnership with the United Nations, other Member States, National Olympic Committees, Parliamentarians, and civil society, we have delivered over 80 Olympic Truce activities on every continent in the world. And I give just two examples:

In Sri Lanka, our High Commission hosted a sports day, inspired by the Paralympics, for disabled soldiers, disabled ex-LTTE combatants and disabled civilians. That unique event brought together former adversaries, embraced diversity and encouraged inclusivity after a horrendous period of conflict in Sri Lanka.

And in the Philippines we co-hosted a football tournament and coaching clinic that brought people together from a diverse range of communities, helping to bridge gaps in particular between Muslim and Christian communities.

We hope to hear more examples of such heartening stories as the Games move on to new host countries.   British Government Ministers have visited both Moscow and Rio de Janeiro for high level meetings as part of our handover and commitment to a lasting legacy.  We have agreements with Russia, Brazil and the International Olympic Committee to support promotion of the ideals of the Olympic Truce over the next four years because we believe that it is through the principles of sport – the teamwork, the commitment, and the dedication – that we can guarantee the Games will have a lasting impact for peace and development for all of us.

Thank you.

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