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United Nations Sports Envoy celebrates Special Olympics values and signs agreement with the host province of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics

29 January 2013
Special Adviser Wilfried Lemke (second from right), Mr. Moon-soon Choi (second from left), Governor of Gangwon Province, surrounded by Mr. Man-hee Shin (left), Director-General of Gangwon Headquarters for PyeongChang 2018, and Ms. Julie Lee, UNOSDP

PyeongChang (UNOSDP) – The UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Wilfried Lemke, is in attendance at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games. Mr. Lemke also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Gangwon Province, the province hosting the 2013 PyeongChang Special Olympics World Winter Games and the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games.

Yesterday, Mr. Lemke provided remarks at the Flame Unification Ceremony as a representative of the UN Secretary-General.

 “I thank each of the athletes for their participation and courage, through which they contribute to our common mission to reframe how society views different abilities,” Mr. Lemke declared at the event.

Since he was appointed to the position of Special Adviser in March 2008, Mr. Lemke has been a strong advocate for a greater use of adaptive sport and physical activity as avenues for fostering the inclusion of persons with disabilities in communities and societies, and for empowering them. He has continuously supported and visited the disability sports family, including the Paralympic and Special Olympics movements along with grassroots organizations at the local level.

The UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, sent a greeting video message to the Special Olympics during today's Opening Ceremony. The Secretary-General stressed the values of Special Olympics, which are “about inclusion and the promotion of fundamental rights". He added: “I welcome the Pyeongchang Declaration which will highlight the Special Olympics’ role in advancing the Millennium Development Goals”.

Prior to the the Opening Ceremony, UNOSDP and Gangwon Province, the province of the 2013 PyeongChang  Special Olympics World Winter Games and the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games , signed a partnership agreement seeking to support the attainment and awareness of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as to promote dialogue and mutual understanding through sport. One key objective is to promote inter-Korean harmony and contribute to world peace through sports by hosting the 2018 PyeongChang  Olympic Winter Games.
Special Adviser Wilfried Lemke among youth during the Global Youth Activation Summit held on the occasion of the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games
“Sport is a powerful tool for creating social change, and fostering peace and leaving a lasting legacy benefiting the local communities, the host nations and communities abroad,” said Special Adviser Wilfried Lemke. He continued: “It is very positive that the Gangwon Province has taken such a strong leadership. I look forward to working with them in order to realize the joint vision that we have developed, for the benefit of peace through sport in particular.”

On 30 January 2013, as representative of the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Lemke will take part in the ‘Global Development Summit’ to support the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention, which entered into force in May 2008, aims at fighting stigmatization and discrimination, as well as strengthening the rights of the world’s estimated 650 million persons with disabilities, including their right “to participate on an equal basis with others in recreational, leisure and sporting activities” (Article 30).

About Special Olympics:
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to 4 million athletes in 170 countries worldwide, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and related programs. Special Olympics takes place daily, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to realize  their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship.

About the Global Development Summit:
World leaders from government, business, education, economic and social development, media and civil society will convene in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea at the Special Olympics Global Development Summit on Ending the Cycle of Poverty and Exclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities. This Summit, the first of its kind focusing solely on people with intellectual disabilities, will examine the urgent needs of the largest disability population throughout the world and will take place as part of the world’s largest sports and humanitarian event, the
2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang. The Summit will raise challenging questions about the scope and underlying nature of the obstacles that prevent people with intellectual disabilities from being included and accepted as part of the larger global development agenda, and will help provide a roadmap for how models of intervention can be created, modified and expanded to include people with intellectual disabilities.

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Partnership Contact:
Julie LEE, Partnership Development Officer  
UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace      
jlee(at)unog.ch / +41 (0)22 917 60 18

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