UN Special Adviser Praises Winter Youth Olympic Games and Attends Christmas Truce Celebration in Flanders and Brussels24 January 2012
Geneva (UNOSDP) – Wilfried Lemke, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, was in attendance last week at the closing of the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOGs) in Innsbruck, Austria. Tomorrow, he will travel to Belgium where he will give a lecture at the European Parliament and participate in a ceremony commemorating the Christmas Truce football game during WWI.
“The atmosphere around these Games is one of joy and friendship,” said Wilfried Lemke. “This exemplary sporting event is a great reminder of the fact that there is much more to sport than the pursuit to win medals. It stands as a clear testimony of the unique potential of sport as a bridge builder and a bearer of important values,” he added.
It is the second time that the Special Adviser was present to attend the Youth Olympic Games. In 2010, he travelled to Singapore on the occasion of the inaugural edition of the Games, where he addressed the participants in workshops organized by UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, who together with UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, were involved in the YOG’s so-called Culture and Education Programme (CEP).
At this year’s edition, both UNICEF and UNEP were once again present. For the duration of the event, UNEP had a dedicated kiosk at Congress Innsbruck, home of the CEP, where athletes could learn about a wide range of environmental issues affecting their daily lives.
As part of a wider campaign, UNEP had created an Athlete's Wall where members of the Olympic Family could write short messages which will then be presented during the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 20-22, 2012.
On Wednesday 25 January 2012 Mr. Lemke will give a lecture at the European Parliament in Brussels on the role of sport in promoting a culture of peace and understanding. The presentation takes place in the context of the ‘Flanders Peace Field’ project, a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the famous Christmas truce football game between British and German soldiers during WWI in Messines, Belgium.
The Special Adviser will also participate in a ceremony in Messines to commemorate the historic event. Also present will be François De Keersmaecker, President of the Belgian Football Association, and Lord Michael Bates, a member of the UK Parliament who engaged on a walk of over 3000 miles through seventeen countries, from Mt Olympus to London, in order to raise awareness of the Olympic Truce concept and values. Also attending will be the Ambassadors of Germany, UK and Ireland.