Remarks by H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly
2 December 2021
Ladies and gentlemen,
My dear friends,
For millennia, humanity has recognized that sports can represent something beyond recreation.
Sport is a unifying force. It brings together people of every religion, race, ethnicity, and political background, to celebrate humanity’s athletic prowess and potential.
It diverts energies from hostility and conflict towards friendly competition. It promotes an active lifestyle and supports our mental and physical well-being.
These truths were known and celebrated in antiquity, during the ancient Greek Olympics, and they remain relevant today.
I personally vouch for the mental and physical benefits of sports. Since entering public office and public life I have done a lot of running. Yes, some of that running has been for political office – but some of it has also been on the track and on sports fields.
Sports can be a vehicle for both global peace and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
It can promote inclusive, gender-equal communities by opening the doors for everyone, regardless of background or gender, to pursue their athletic aspirations.
It can instill the spirit of camaraderie, of solidarity, and of teamwork, thereby reducing tensions and building bridges where conflict may otherwise take root
It can support quality education by promoting healthier bodies and minds, thereby improving academic performance.
Sports can relieve the psychological stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken a big toll on our collective psyche and left us so weary.
My friends, we are all keen to rebuild a better world and sports can help us do that.
We must look towards the 2022 Winter Olympics with that sentiment in mind.
As many countries prepare to gather in Beijing next year, let us acknowledge the key lesson that we have learned from the pandemic: all of humanity shares a common destiny.
As we watch athletes, representing every flag, every colour, and every background, compete in the Olympics, let us celebrate our common humanity.
Let us acknowledge our obligations to one another and to our planet. Let us reflect on the pointlessness of conflict and aspire for peace.
In that spirit, I heartily support the Olympic Truce Resolution, entitled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal”, which the General Assembly is preparing to adopt.
This resolution, tabled and co-sponsored by China and many other Member States, urges Members to observe the Olympic Truce, individually and collectively.
I call upon all Member States to support the efforts of the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee, and to use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue, and reconciliation.
I hope that the games will nurture friendship and be held in the spirit of camaraderie we need to rebuild a better world. A hopeful world. A peaceful world. A world aligned with the principles and the values of the United Nations Charter.
I thank you.