India, Pak cricket teams get UN honour IYSPE~~05

Published: Saturday, October 1, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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United Nations:The United Nations has appointed the national cricket teams of India and Pakistanspokespersons for the International Year of Sport and Physical Education (IYSPE 2005). This decision has been taken in recognition of the "outstanding" example both have set in "overcoming regional tensions encouraging peaceful relations" between the two countries.

Announcing the decision, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General on Sport for Development and Peace, Adolf Ogi said the two teams have been recognised for serving as "catalysts" of peace in early 2004 when the Indian team travelled to Pakistan for the first time in 14 years to compete in a cricket series amidst thawing of relations between the two countries.

Stressing on cricket diplomacy, Ogi recalled that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf took the opportunity of a reciprocal visit of Pakistan team to India to carry forwardthe dialogue process with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"The two teams, both passionately supported by their respective countries, have pledged to cooperate with the United Nations to use power of sport to bridge cultural and ethnic divides and encourage peaceful relations," he said.

IYSPE 2005 seeks to encourage the use of sports to promote education, health, development and peace.

The world body also plans to use IYSPE to highlight the power of sports to contribute to the Millennium Development Goals as well as promote use of sports to defuse politicaltension and facilitate post-conflict reconciliation.

Stressing that sports can play a role in improving the lives of whole communities, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said he is convinced that the time is right to build on thatunderstanding to encourage governments, development agencies and communities to think how sports can be included as a more systematic ally in the plans to help children, particularly those living in poverty, disease and conflict.

Adolf Ogi said the goal, together with the India and Pakistan cricket teams, is to ensure that the contribution of sports towards peace is recognised by society and encouragedby governments, media and civil society.

"I believe that both national cricket teams are pioneers in the quest for peace and stability in South Asia and can serve as role model for other countries and regions around theworld," Olga added.

The world body has taken several initiatives to stress the role of sports, including projects to ensure that children in refugee camps have access to vital play and recreation activities and has undertaken programmes to promote education by linking sports participation to school attendance and academic performance.

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