Friday 21 September, a date to celebrate and take action
The date is an important one. For Peace and Sport, the date of 21 September is always written in capital letters, as is 6 April, which marks International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. Of course, the cause of peace and the struggle for a world without conflict cannot be reduced to just two days of the year, one in the autumn, one in the spring. But both should serve as a wake-up call. They invite the whole planet to come together to reject fatalism. They call upon individuals, organisations, institutions and governments to take action to build a better world.
I have long held the belief that sport can, and must, play a decisive role. Sport enables pacifist ideals to reach places that politics and diplomacy cannot. This was demonstrated again in 2018, notably at the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, where the two Koreas embarked on a process of rapprochement that remains on course today.
Peace and Sport has chosen the date of 21 September to present its latest Champions for Peace. Twelve athletes, all determined to use their name, image and influence with young people and institutions to serve the cause of peace through sport. They join a group of over 100 top-level sportspersons who together make up one of the pillars of our organisation.
The 2018 cohort is made up of seven men and five women, representing nine different sports. They come from countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and America. Skier Marie Bochet, athletes Yohan Blake and Mutaz Essa Barshim, pentathlete Samantha Murray, cyclist Stefany Hernandez, table tennis player Ryu Seung-min, to name just a few, embody the diversity of the cause of peace through sport. They are joining us. They are strengthening us.
Another important date for Peace and Sport is approaching. Our Regional Forum is set to take place on the Greek island of Rhodes, on 18 October. For this latest edition of the event themed: Societies in Motion: Rising up through Sport, we have opted for a regional format, covering just the Mediterranean and Balkan region. Together with our partner, the South Aegean region of Greece and its Governor, George Hatzimarkos, we will identify the best practices in place, promote tried and tested solutions and attempt to duplicate them. It will be an edition to forge long-lasting partnerships.