Bach stresses role of sport in economic recovery as IOC-WHO accord signed
Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, has urged governments around the world to ensure that sport forms part of their strategies to revive economies after the coronavirus pandemic.
Bach made the call in a message posted on social media yesterday, and following the announcement of a new cooperation agreement with the World Health Organisation.
The IOC president said: “I call on all national governments to include sport in their economic recovery programmes. Sport can help the economic recovery but it is also very important for the prevention of future health crises.”
The IOC has been significantly impacted by the pandemic in having to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which were scheduled for August and September, until 2021, a decision based in part on advice from the WHO on the spread of Covid-19.
In giving his support to the WHO’s ‘Walk the Talk: The Health For All’ challenge, held online for the first time, Bach said: “Join me and all the Olympians around the world who are inviting you to play sport with them on the IOC platform and on social media.
“In all this we are benefitting from the great advice of the World Health Organisation. They advise us to play sport together in a safe environment. With them we are in ‘Safe Hands’ so we can rely on them and we are also on our side also working with them on the preparation for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 to celebrate them in a safe environment in 2021.
“Then these Olympic Games, these postponed Olympic Games, can and will be the light at the end of the dark tunnel we are all in right now.”
Last week, the IOC announced a funding package of $800 million to cover additional costs resulting from the one year postponement of the Olympics.
Some $650 million will go towards the organisation of the games and $150 million to support international federations and national Olympic committees.
Under the new agreement signed by the IOC and the WHO on Saturday, the two organisations made a shared commitment to promoting healthy society through sport, in alignment with Sustainable Development Goal 3 ('Good health and well-being'), and to contributing to the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
The IOC and the WHO have been partners since 1984 when the first MoU was signed, and have worked on various joint initiatives and collaboration projects aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles and grassroots sports and fighting physical inactivity as a major risk factor for NCDs.
Bach said: “Over the last few months in the current crisis, we have all seen how important sport and physical activity are for physical and mental health. Sport can save lives. We will benefit from WHO advice when addressing the challenges of the post-coronavirus society, where health will play a much more prominent role in public policies. We look forward to working even closer with WHO.”
Tedros Adhanom, the director general of the WHO, added: “I am pleased to formalise this longstanding partnership with the International Olympic Committee. WHO works not only to respond to diseases, but also to help people realise their healthiest lives, and this partnership will do exactly that. Physical activity is one of the keys to good health and well-being.”