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Updated: Aug 20, 2022

Sport has been, perhaps, the single most important thing that brings people together. It

has also had a positive influence on the world and has led to so many positive and

transformative developments. It has also helped to bring attention to ills in our society

with a view to transforming our society and making it a better place for coexistence. It

was in recognition of these great attributes of sport that the UN, on 23 rd August 2013, at

its headquarters in New York, United States, created this day in order to recognize the

the transformative power of sport and its potential in advancing social change like

democracy and human rights around the world.

The positive power of sport is seen in sportsmen and women from all backgrounds,

races, religions, languages, and barriers coming together and cheer one another up,

encourage one another, and console one another. In sports, it seems as though people

forget all their differences and work towards achieving the same goal-victory. It is such a

marvelous sight to behold. This is particularly powerful and important in view of the

polarized world in which we live now.

A poignant manifestation of this power of sport to transcend our differences and foster

hope and cooperation was in full display at the Beijing 2022 Olympics. Two men from

two warring countries, Oleksandr Abramenko (from Ukraine) and Ilia Burov (from Russia)

hugged and congratulated each other for a long time. This picture has become an

indelible example of the unifying power of love around the globe.

Sport has afforded people who would otherwise be silent a powerful platform to speak,

either with words or gesture, against societal ills and this has had a great effect. In

English Premier League, for instance, there has been a campaign to kick out racism

which has been an ugly thing in the league and around the world. Black players were

subjected to racial abuse when they did not play very well. The league took a position

and team players kneel before every game with a message to kick out racism. This

sends a powerful message that racism is not welcome in the league. A similar thing is

going on with regard to the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Different teams around the world

have displayed banners in opposition to the war and this has shed light on this unjust

and ugly conflict.

As we mark this day in line with one of the objectives of the UN to foster world peace

and development, let us recognize that sport has contributed in no small part to

fostering world development and peace. Let the spirit of sport and friendship continue.

Nnamdi Ilomuanya

International Editor of Single2do

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