International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has stressed that “our Olympic mission is not a political mission” as Olympic Day was staged against the backdrop of Russia’s ongoing military attack on Ukraine.
Bach used the annual celebration to reiterate the role sport can play in building bridges during what he described as “divisive and confrontational times”.
This year’s Olympic Day aims to promote the message “Together, for a Peaceful World” with the IOC, National Olympic Committees (NOC) and International Federations using the #MoveForPeace hashtag on social media.
Since 1948, the aim of the Olympic Day is to unite the sporting world and looks to commemorate the founding of the IOC on June 23 in 1984.
“The Olympic Games, which unite the entire world in peaceful competition, are a powerful symbol of peace,” said Bach.
“Our Olympic mission is not a political mission.
“Our Olympic mission is a humanitarian mission.”
The IOC said ongoing conflicts, Russian invasion of Ukraine and the situation in Afghanistan have “reaffirmed an urgent need for solidarity and peace in our divided world”.
According to the United Nations, at least 4,634 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia launched a full-scale invasion on February 24, but it is feared the true figure is far higher.
About 8 million people have also fled Ukraine.
“Without solidarity there is no peace,” added Bach.
“In these divisive and confrontational times, people around the world are longing for a unifying force that brings humankind together.
“In this respect, the Olympic Movement has a lot to offer with our mission to unite the entire world in peaceful competition.”
The IOC said more than 135 NOCs had registered their commitment to Olympic Day by hosting activities such as runs, outdoor games for families, introductions to new sports, meetings with Olympians and workshops on the Olympic values.
Digital initiatives, such as virtual Olympic challenges, online workouts and virtual live chats with athletes were also set to be organised around the world to mark the day.
This year’s event also comes just one day before the IOC is due to host its latest Executive Board meeting in Lausanne.
It will be the first gathering of Executive Board meetings since the IOC Session in the Swiss city on May 20 where Bach admitted that the organisation’s relationship with the Russian Government had “dramatically deteriorated”.
Bach also issued a warning to athletes who support Russia’s military assault on Ukraine, insisting they will “draw the necessary consequences”.
Russian and Belarusian athletes have been barred by a large majority of International Federations following recommendations by the IOC in response to the war in Ukraine.
But IOC members from both countries and the Russian Olympic Committee and National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus have avoided direct sanctions.
Since the IOC Session, Bach attended the European Olympic Committees General Assembly where he said that sporting organisations “cannot sanction someone just because of the passport that they hold”. –insidethegames.biz