Sport as an instrument of peace and a link between peoples. The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, scheduled for 6th April by the United Nations, this year falls at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
And so, proclaimed in 2013 by the UN General Assembly on the very day when, in 1896 in Athens, thanks to the contribution of Pierre de Coubertin, the first Olympic Games of the modern era were born, this anniversary assumes a particular significance in 2020 - the year which saw world sport halted and the historic postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to 2021.
During today's Angelus, Pope Francis himself stressed the importance of sport, especially in the emergency situation the world is currently facing. “Tomorrow, 6th April, is the International Day of Sport for Peace and Development declared by the United Nations,” the Pope recalled. “In this period, many sporting events have been suspended, but the best aspects of sport are revealed: endurance, team spirit, brotherhood, giving the best of oneself. So, let us launch sport for peace and development once again”. There is an attentiveness and a bond with the sporting world that the Pope has renewed today, despite it being on the occasion of an unusual Palm Sunday falling at such a difficult time for both the Italian and worldwide population (photo ANSA).
“The words of Pope Francis fill all sportsmen and sportswomen with pride and joy,” the President of CONI, Giovanni Malagò, emphasised. “For our world, they are a sign of great unity which, to tell the truth, His Holiness has never failed in conveying to us, but which today, in such a particularly delicate and difficult period for all of us, resounds with greater emphasis and respectful gratitude. Tomorrow is a day of celebration for the Olympic world. It is the day on which the 'International Day of Sport for Development and Peace' is celebrated worldwide. It is celebrated on 6th April because it marks a historical moment: on 6th April 1896, the first Olympic Games of the modern era began in Athens. 6th April is our holiday, the holiday of sport. I know that at this time the IOC, with President Thomas Bach in the lead, and the entire Olympic movement are joining the global effort to encourage everyone to be active and to stay healthy at a time when the world is fighting an unprecedented health crisis by asking people to stay home to contain the spread of COVID-19. For this reason, the Holy Father's words represent a symbolic blessing towards the great family of sport. We, from this message as well, must draw on that strong spirit necessary to face and overcome the current difficulties through precisely those characteristics which - as the Holy Father recalled - are inherent in the nature of true sportsmen and sportswomen: endurance, team spirit and brotherhood. Onlyif we stand together can we win this battle. Thank you, Pope Francis, for this appeal that the world of sport cannot fail to observe with scrupulous dedication”.
The message launched by the UN on the occasion of the 2020 edition of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace is “let us stay active and healthy to end the #COVID19 pandemic”. This year's Day will therefore focus not only on the health benefits of sport, but also on its ability to bring people together. Even during this period of social distancing, athletes, technicians and instructors, who are exercising solidarity together, help their fans through isolation by staying fit and offering them opportunities to distract themselves. Apart, but united - beyond any wall or border.