Sport and Peace
Sport, as a universal language, can be a powerful vehicle to promote peace, tolerance and understanding. Through its power to bring people together across boundaries, cultures and religions, it can promote tolerance and reconciliation. For example, sport has helped re-initi-ate dialogue when other channels were struggling: North and South Korea have merged their athletes into a common team for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games; table tennis set the stage for the resumption of diplomatic ties between China and the USA in 1971; and today, Israeli and Palestinian children regularly come together to play soccer or basket ball.
The core values integral to sportsmanship make sport a valuable method of promoting peace, from the local to the international scale. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has long been using the power of sport in its programmes to foster refugee reintegration and to ensure tolerance and understanding between the communities. In 2005, UNHCR is set to expand its activities and actively mainstream sport in its programs and policies.
On a communication level, sport can be used as an effective delivery mechanism for education about peace, tolerance, and respect for opponents, regardless of ethnic, cultural, religious or other differences. Its inclusive nature makes sport a good tool to increase knowledge, understanding and awareness about peaceful co-existence.