UN and partners promote sport as a tool to prevent violent extremism

NEW YORK: Ambassadors, senior UN officials, representatives of global sports organisations, and managers of some of the world’s top athletes met virtually on Friday to underline the role that sport can play in combating violent extremism and radicalisation.

Sport is synonymous with values such as tolerance, respect and team work, and aligns with the UN’s founding goal of creating a better world for all, the head of the Organisation’s Office of Counter-Terrorism, Vladimir Voronkov, told participants.

This explains why terrorist groups seek to hijack sporting events, with incidents such as the March 2009 attack against Sri Lanka’s cricket team, and the Boston Marathon bombing in the United States some four years later, serving as stark reminders.

“In today’s particularly volatile world, sport is a critical shelter for young and vulnerable people. Sport helps children and teenagers across the globe to build the psychological and emotional strength to be better, more tolerant and respectful citizens. Sport equips them with the right tools to resist terrorist propaganda,” said Mr. Voronkov.

Friday’s online event was held in the framework of a UN initiative, launched in February, that aims to safeguard major sporting events worldwide from terrorism-related threats. It will be followed by a technical-level expert meeting, to be held next week.

Future developments include a guide for policymakers, and a global campaign featuring renowned athletes and youth which the organisers believe will garner “significant exposure” during upcoming major sports events such as the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.

For the head coach of the Tottenham Hotspur football club, José Mourinho, sports have the power to transform us for the better. They also teach us that “incredible things” can be achieved by working together.

“Sport makes it clear that in this world, the languages you speak, the colour of your skin, your societal and economic background, your gender identity, sexual orientation, are totally irrelevant”, he said.

“What matters in sport is who you are, how motivated you are, how hard you are willing to work to become a better version of yourself.”



Source: WAM – Emirates News Agency

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