Nelson Mandela: a strong voice for sport
It was a historic moment today in Johannesburg, when IOC President Jacques Rogge and the former President of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, shook hands. Nelson Mandela is a strong supporter of sport as a tool to contribute to a peaceful world. “He is an icon of the world and I have great respect for him. As a former boxer he is very close to sport. Nelson Mandela was present at the 1992 Games in Barcelona where South Africa returned to the Olympic Games. He has played a very positive role for sport and the Olympic Movement”, Rogge declared. The IOC President was accompanied by IOC Executive Board member Sam Ramsamy.
Sport for Peace
During their long awaited meeting, the two men had a lively discussion on how sport can be used as a vehicle to promote peace. “Sport can facilitate dialogue between different communities and be a catalyst in our society”, both strongly agreed. Nelson Mandela showed particular interest in two “Sport for Peace” projects the IOC, together with UN peace-keeping forces and further partners, recently implemented in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia.
The IOC President concluded: “Sports activities promote interaction, tolerance and the spirit of fair play, and can help especially youngsters of developing countries in their daily lives, bringing them hope and educating them. If youngsters learn through sport to respect each other, they will be well equipped for their role in contributing to a better society.”
A non-racial South Africa through sport
In South Africa, the country where Mandela became the first President to be elected in fully representative democratic elections, “sport has contributed to changing the country into a Rainbow Nation”, said Rogge. “The Olympic Movement was the first to welcome a non-racial South Africa, under the leadership of Nelson Mandela. The renaissance of South Africa through sport is a reality.” The IOC President also congratulated Nelson Mandela on the successful staging of major sports events in his country, recalling the Rugby World Cup in 1995, the African Games in 1999 and the Cricket World Cup in 2003. Such events play an important role in the development of South African sport, the two men agreed. Looking into the future, Rogge expressed his best wishes for the staging of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which will attract people from all over the globe to South Africa.
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