08/04/2024 - 11:55

2024 #WhiteCard campaign: focus on the “Athletes : game on for peace” international dialogue

The international dialogue “Athletes Game on for Peace,” co-organized on April 4, 2024, by Peace and Sport and UNESCO, highlighted the power of athletes as catalysts for peace and the importance of supporting them in their commitment.

The first session focused on the terms of the debate with moderation provided by Pascal Boniface, IRIS Founding-Director. The latter recalled sport’s unique attributes and global influence in a tense geopolitical context. Valentin Guéry, a Doctor in sports sciences from Paris-Nanterre University, then presented the factors that explain the emblematic and prescriptive position of athletes and the obstacles they face in their commitment. Among these obstacles, Erin Bourke, UAOA project manager from the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile highlighted the online violence suffered by athletes, recalling the need for coalitions to fight against this scourge. Francine Hetherington Raveney, Deputy Executive Secretary of EPAS – Council of Europe, addressed the issue of athletes’ freedom of expression through a legal analysis of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. Brendan Williams, Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation Athletes’ Advisory Commission, shared the unique example of this sporting body, which supports its athletes in their commitments and societal positions.

Gustavo Merino, Director of Social Policies of UNESCO, moderated the second session, engaging the Peace and Sport’s CEO and former Olympic coach, Jean-Jérôme Perrin-Mortier, and the Champions for Peace Club representative and Olympic medalist herself, Marlène Harnois, in an exchange around the vectors of athlete commitment, their aspirations, as well as their needs. Presenting the results of a consultation carried out with Champions for Peace, the speakers shared recommendations and ways to strengthen the impact of athletes wishing to get involved.

An exchange between committed athletes, presented and moderated by journalist Anne-Laure Bonnet, concluded the day. Three peace leaders shared their personal experiences and the reasons that prompted them to support building more peaceful communities through sport. Through her journey, Masomah Ali Zada, Chef de Mission of the Paris 2024 Refugee Olympic Team, shared her commitment to promoting sport as a tool for empowering women and including refugees. Siya Kolisi, Captain of the double World Champion South African rugby team and Champion for Peace, spoke about the central place of commitment in athletes’ careers, which allows them to position themselves as role models. Didier Drogba, Vice-President of Peace and Sport, Champion for Peace and football legend, recalled the obstacles that athletes encounter in their commitments and, in particular, the difficulty of choosing the “peace side” beyond the outbursts of hatred.

The diversity of interventions converged on the need to offer support from experts in peace through sport, platforms for expression, and favorable conditions for athletes who want to get involved.

The launch of the #WhiteCard 2024 campaign closed this event, calling on everyone to make a gesture for peace by brandishing this worldwide symbol of peace through sport.

Read the Champions for Peace appeal:

Relive the event

Photos – @GabrielGuitard



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