Dr. Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, Dear Colleagues,
Good morning and welcome. It is a great pleasure to be here with you at this groundbreaking ceremony.
This week of all weeks, getting more exercise may be the last thing on our minds. In fact, this ceremony is providing me with a few precious moments of rest!
But, of course, exercise is a vital part of a healthy work-life balance.
It clears our heads; it refreshes us; it boosts creativity; and it helps us live longer lives in better mental and physical health.
On a grander scale, exercise brings people together, promotes positive social change and empowers people, particularly women and girls.
Anyone who has seen refugee children kicking a ball knows that sports give children the basic human rights of being themselves, laughing and playing.
That is why we value so highly the IOC’s humanitarian projects, and the contributions of the athletes and sports personalities who are working as UN Goodwill Ambassadors.
The most recent and striking example of sport’s power to promote dignity and human rights was the refugee team who competed at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. I was moved and inspired when I met these refugee athletes.
They showed us that sport is for everyone, and that Olympic values are UN values.
I thank the International Olympic Committee and President Thomas Bach for their generosity in providing the United Nations with this Staff Recreation Facility.
The facility symbolizes the strong partnership between the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee, and our shared commitment to advancing peace and development through sport.
This partnership was only possible because of the personal commitment and vision of President Bach. I thank him for this.
But in many ways, this is a thank you gift to all of you – our staff, the women and men of the United Nations.
From day one, I have been humbled and amazed by your dedication and drive. You work long hours. You make great personal sacrifices. You often toil with little recognition or reward.
You work hard because you believe in who we are and all that we stand for. And I believe in all of you. You inspire me every day. I am proud to call you my colleagues.
Your job may be may be frustrating at times. But if you find your blood pressure rising in the Secretariat building, you can come here and bring it down.
If you’re sweating the small stuff over there, you can come here and sweat for more constructive purposes.
If you feel like you’re on a proverbial treadmill over there, you can get on a real one over here and clear your mind.
So enjoy this facility. Make the most of it. You, the outstanding staff of the United Nations, deserve this.
Once again, to President Bach and the IOC, thank you for your generosity, commitment and engagement.
Let us continue to strengthen our partnership as we work together for a better world.