Remarks by Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens, U.S. Representative to ECOSOC, at a General Assembly meeting on Sport for Peace and Development, November 6, 2013

Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens
U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council 
New York, NY
November 6, 2013




AS DELIVERED

The United States is pleased to cosponsor the resolution entitled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal.” We especially want to draw attention to the language in the resolution “calling upon host countries to promote social inclusion without discrimination of any kind.” This is the first time that language of this kind appears in a resolution on the Olympic Truce, and it sends a powerful message highlighting the role that sport plays for all people. This phrase emphasizes the importance of inclusion and participation of all people in sporting activity, regardless of identity, including persons of different sexual orientations and gender identities.

In its recitation of the fundamental principles of Olympism, the Olympic Charter states “Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

Many of the most inspirational moments in the Olympics have come through the ever-broadening participation of persons of various backgrounds in the Games, including: Native-American Jim Thorpe’s decathlon and pentathlon gold medals in the 1912 Olympics; the four gold medals African-American Jesse Owens won at the 1936 Berlin Olympics; the three 1960 gold medals of Wilma Rudolph, an African-American woman stricken with polio at age four whose childhood doctors feared she may never walk without wearing a leg brace; and the recent inspirational performance of South African Caster Semenya, who faced unprecedented challenges and unfair gender testing in 2009 only to return proudly and medal in the London Games, where her teammates selected her for the honor of serving as her nation’s flag bearer during the opening ceremony.

Part of what makes sport so important is that it promotes inclusion, bringing together people of different ages, races, religions, social status, disabilities, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Sport embraces all segments of society and is instrumental in empowering people of diverse backgrounds, while fostering tolerance and respect for all people, no matter what they look like, where they come from, where they worship, or whom they love.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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PRN: 2013/222