UN: UN chief welcomes first-ever refugee team to compete in Olympic Games

New York, US (PANA) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the first-ever
Olympic refugee team to compete in the international event, and received the Olympic
Cup Award on behalf of the UN.

Ban, who spoke on Saturday an event in Geneva, Switzerland, tagged: "Celebrating
the Olympic Spirit" ahead of the Rio Games in Brazil, which begin in August, said:
"This year, the International Olympic Committee has taken the extraordinary step of
including a refugee team."

"For the first time in history, talented athletes who have been forced to flee their
homes will get a chance to chase gold.Their fellow refugees will see outstanding
contenders who give hope to all, and the world will see refugees the way they
deserve to be seen: as talented, strong and inspiring people," the UN chief stated.

Win or lose, he said that, these athletes are "champions of the spirit", and called
on the international community to find lasting solutions to support the current
global refugee crisis.

"Refugees want homes, not tents.They want a flag that waves for their rights, and
they deserve a world that gives them more than assistance, they deserve a world
that is at peace. Let us all be on the team of refugees until there is no need for a
refugee team at all," he said.

Ban also reminded those attending the event about the World Humanitarian
Summit organized by the UN next month in Istanbul, Turkey, noting that, it will
be followed in September by a meeting of the UN General Assembly on
addressing large movements of migrants and refugees.

The UN chief called on leaders and people to make the most of these global
opportunities for progress.

A UN statement made available to PANA in New York on Saturday, on the event
in Geneva, said that, Ban received the Olympic Cup Award on behalf of the UN,
stating: "This is the second time the UN received this distinction, the first time
was 17 years ago."

It quoted the UN chief as saying: "I sincerely thank you for this powerful
recognition of the talented, dedicated and selfless women and men of our

"They work around the world and they work around the clock for a better
future of all the people. I accept this on their behalf with deep gratitude," he
told IOC President Thomas Bach.

He said: "My Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace,
Mr. Wilfried Lemke, has made dedicated efforts to advance the goals of the
United Nations through sport."

"I thank all the United Nations bodies that are leveraging the power of sport.
We are collaborating with athletes to inspire children. We are making the
Olympic Games more green, and we are joining forces to use this massive,
global celebration of the human spirit as a reminder of our common
humanity," Ban stressed.

The UN chief also said that, seeing the Olympic flame brings him back to
when he carried the torch in the relay to the London Olympics in 2012 and
the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

"I admit I even trained before I carried the torch because I did not want to
run out of breath with such a critical mission.

"It was an electrifying experience.The crowds were cheering, and the
helicopters were flying overheard. There was noise but passion and cheer.
I carried the torch, like so many others, for the dream of the Olympic Truce,"
Ban added.
-0-   PANA   AA  30April2016

30 april 2016 15:22:42

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