UN Headquarters

29 July 2013

Remarks at "Passing the Summer Olympics Baton: From London 2012 to Rio 2016" event

Ban Ki-moon

I am delighted to be with you for this special event.

Some of you may remember that I had the honour of running in the torch relay last year in London. What a joyous experience! The streets were alive with the excitement and good will of people from around the world. It showed the power of sport to unite different countries for the same goal.

The track suit I wore that day is in a frame for an Olympics exhibition just down the hall. Maybe I should go get it for another run right here! After all, it is time to start training for Rio!

The London Olympic and Paralympic Games were a remarkable success.

Of course there were world records and huge audiences.

But it was not only the athletes who won. The United Kingdom invested heavily in sustainable legacies. They scored goals for the planet and its people.

Once again, I congratulate you on this achievement. You set new standards with educational and other efforts in the U.K. and around the world.

I especially appreciated how London made the Paralympics an integral part of the “Games for Everyone.”

I am glad that UNICEF was among the UN entities that worked with you to reach millions of people in developing countries to improve their lives through sport.

The first record was set even before the Games started when the Olympic Truce resolution was adopted by the General Assembly with all 193 Member States cosponsoring—an unprecedented vote of support.

Today our eyes turn towards the next host of the Summer Games.

At the United Nations, the word Rio will always be linked with sustainable development, thanks to two landmark conferences: the Earth Summit and Rio+20.

Often, we talk about being on the road from Rio.

Today, we set off on the road to Rio -- to the 2016 Olympics.

Last month, we welcomed Brazilian Sports Minster Aldo Rebelo to the Third International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development held here at the United Nations. He told us about the many cultural, environmental and educational programmes Brazil is carrying out in the lead-up to next year’s World Cup and the Rio Games two years after that.

I know we are all looking forward to seeing another successful event in Brazil, a country that has such great diversity and capacities. I am confident you will use these sporting events to advance sustainable development.

You can set an excellent example for Korea to follow when it hosts the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang – and for all future host countries.

In that spirit, I am happy to witness the passing of the baton -- the great relay that symbolizes our common goals and values, and our commitment to use the Games as a platform to promote mutual understanding and peace.

I wish Rio, Brazil and the world exciting and transformative Games. The United Nations stands ready to support you on the home stretch of hosting the two largest sport events in the world.

Thank you.