29 January 2013

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, in Message to Special Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony,

Hails Sport’s Uniting Power across Boundaries, Dividing Lines

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s video message to the opening ceremony for the 2013 Pyeongchang Special Olympics World Winter Games, in Pyeongchang on 29 January:

Madam Na Kyung-won, Chair of the 2013 Pyeongchang Special Olympics World Winter Games Organizing Committee, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to convey my greetings and good wishes to the Special Olympics athletes and the many volunteers, families, spectators and supporters.

With the opening of the tenth Special Olympics World Winter Games, Pyeongchang will showcase the power and sprit of sport to unite people across boundaries and dividing lines.  This event is also an important milestone on the road to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, which will be held in Pyeongchang.

The Special Olympics is about inclusion and the promotion of fundamental rights.  This is also the essence of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The United Nations is proud to work with the Special Olympics to promote the Convention and advance empowerment, opportunity and dignity for all.

I welcome the Pyeongchang Declaration, which will highlight the Special Olympics’ role in advancing the Millennium Development Goals.  And I am also pleased that you will convene a first-of-its-kind Global Development Summit focused on “Ending the Cycle of Poverty and Exclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities”.

This will focus on the possibilities that the Convention provides in the field of sport — and will be helpful as the United Nations prepares for a high-level meeting on the rights of people with disabilities, in September.

I recently had the honour to address the Rehabilitation International World Congress in Incheon, Republic of Korea.  As I said there:  “When we empower persons with disabilities, we strengthen human solidarity for everyone.”

Thank you for all you are doing to advance solidarity and opportunity for people with disabilities  and our world.  I wish you all very successful Games.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record