Beijing, China

04 February 2022

Secretary-General’s remarks after bilateral meeting with the President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach 

I think we need at this moment more than ever the message of unity and solidarity that is the message of the Olympic Games. In a moment when we see so many expressions of populism, so many expressions of racism, so many expressions of xenophobia, antisemitism, anti-Muslim hatred, to be here and to be with athletes that come from all cultures, from all countries, from all ethnicities, from all religions, it’s a fantastic message. It’s a message of tolerance, of mutual respect and a message in which it’s proven that it’s possible to compete loyally and at the same time to fraternize. This is what is needed in the world. Of course, there is competition in the world, but that competition does not necessarily mean an enmity. That competition needs to allow the world to come together and to face the enormous challenges of today: COVID-19, climate change, inequality, all things that require much more unity and solidarity in our world and the message of these Olympic Games is that message.

The Olympic Truce is the most important and most ancient symbol of the importance of peace. I had the opportunity a few days ago, to invoke the Olympic Truce to ask Ethiopians to stop fighting. When we see so many conflicts around the world we see the absolute relevance of having Olympic Games in which all countries are represented, even – unfortunately – some that are in a war situation, to have them all here and to show that peace is possible, that unity is possible and that solidarity is possible. This fully justifies the strong commitment of the United Nations to support the International Olympic Committee.