United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Rio de Janeiro from New York, having transited through Buenos Aires, on Thursday morning, 4 August.
Shortly after his arrival, the Secretary-General, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, visited the Olympic Village where he had the opportunity to meet with athletes participating in the Games as a Refugee Olympic Team.
He told them that their courage was an inspiration to the world, and especially the 65 million refugees and migrants around the world.
While in the Village he met with the Olympic team from the Republic of Korea. He was accompanied by the former President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, who is currently the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Youth Refugees and Sport.
The Secretary-General participated in the traditional dinner hosted by the current President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach.
He told those present how much he appreciated the cooperation between their two organizations, especially regarding the call for an Olympic Truce.
The Secretary-General also thanked President Bach for IOC’s strong support for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly in areas of sustainability of sport, as well as the effort to use sport as a tool for peace and mutual understanding.
Ban also underscored his deep appreciation for the IOC’s support of refugees. The Secretary-General noted the inclusion, for the first time, of a Refugee Olympic Team. (See Press Release SG/SM/17957.)
On Friday, the Secretary-General took part in the Olympic Torch Relay where he received the torch from Mr. Bach. After a short distance, the Secretary-General handed it over to Thaiza Vitória da Silva, a 15-year-old handball player from Rio de Janeiro. She represented the 400 girls participating in the “One Win Leads to Another” joint programme with UN-Women and the IOC, which aims at promoting sport activities for adolescent girls.
Later on Friday evening, the Secretary-General attended the opening ceremony of the thirty-first Olympic Games.
In a video message broadcast at the start of the ceremony, the Secretary-General proclaimed the Olympic Truce and called on warring parties everywhere to lay down their weapons and put aside their differences during the Games. (See Press Release SG/SM/17959.)
On Saturday morning the Secretary-General, accompanied by President Bach, attended the men’s field hockey game between Argentina and the Netherlands, followed by the finals of the women’s 10-metre air rifle event.
In the late afternoon, the Secretary-General left Rio de Janeiro for the Foz do Iguazú national park, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site which sits on the borders of Brazil and Argentina. The park is renowned for its massive waterfall.
Arriving first on the Brazilian side of the falls, the Secretary-General was hosted for a dinner by Jorge Samek, the General Director for Brazil of Itaipu Binacional (Brazil). Also present at the dinner was Foreign Minister in the Acting Government of the Federative Republic of Brazil, José, and the Minister of Health, Ricardo Barros. Also in attendance was Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization.
On Sunday morning, 7 August, the Secretary-General visited the Itaipu Binacional Company, a hydroelectric dam project jointly owned by Brazil and Paraguay. The dam, one of the largest producers of hydroelectric power in the world, sits on the border between the two countries.
During his tour of the site the Secretary-General said he was inspired. “This is the place”, he said, “where we use nature, the power of water for humanity for development and peace and harmony.”
“If we use water wisely, sustainably and practically, we will have both our planet and human beings on a sustainable path,” he added.
As part of the visit, the Secretary-General also met with a group of young entrepreneurs from over 18 countries who are developing sustainable energy projects at the Itaipu Technological Park.
Later on Sunday afternoon, the Secretary-General and his delegation transferred by car to Argentina where they visited the Argentine side of the Iguazú Falls before flying to Buenos Aires to start his official visit to the country.