Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, observed on 6 April:
Sport is one of the great human pursuits — a model of teamwork, a platform for individual excellence and a driver of economic growth for all of society. The United Nations has long worked in wide-ranging ways with athletes and sporting federations and associations to use this great power to build bridges of friendship and coexistence, to promote healthy lifestyles and to advance our work to achieve sustainable, inclusive development and the 2030 Agenda.
Those involved in sport also have responsibilities: To reduce its environmental footprint, to meet international labour standards, to fight discrimination and prejudice of all kinds, to reject corruption and to ensure that major global events such as the FIFA [Federation Internationale de Football Association] World Cup and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which bring the world together, leave a positive legacy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges to the world of sports. Workers, fans and athletes have felt the pain of absence, of lost revenue and of dreams deferred. But many competitions and leagues have found new ways to create opportunities for community and joy despite the crisis.
As vaccines spread hope and spectators begin to return to arenas, the world of sport has crucial contributions to make in forging a safe and sustainable recovery. The United Nations looks forward to continuing to work with sportspeople and organizations around the world to advance climate action and to promote peace, human rights and sustainable development. We will play and cheer again when everyone is safe from the pandemic.